Young people speak out about children's rights to participation
Written by Plan International and Save the Children
Side-Event on Children’s Right to Participation hosted by four member states of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
Child participation is one of the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As such, it is one of the most important rights for children as it enables them to express their views and opinions, receive information, involve themselves and participate in all matters that affect their lives — in keeping with their age and maturity.
“How can an adult find out what is the best to do for a child without asking him or her? When adults and children share issues children start to trust adults and start to find words for their feelings. Children can do many great things if they are given the opportunity.” Fatima, 17, Ghana
The Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Belize, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Uruguay in collaboration with UNICEF, Plan International, War Child Holland and Save the Children organized an Interactive Panel Discussion on Child Participation on Thursday October 15, in New York.
The event explored the concept of child participation through the lens of children themselves. A panel of young people from different regions interacted with child participation practitioners and participants and shared their stories, experiences and hopes in promoting meaningful child participation.
“Adults are afraid that children will take over. Parents must understand we only want our voices to be heard and our opinions to be taken into consideration.” Marita, 18, Norway
The panel was facilitated by Ishmael Beah, author and UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by Conflict. The young people who participated in the panel were:
- Allegra, USA
- Arisa, USA
- Fatimata, Ghana
- Baleng, Ghana
- Marita, Norway
- Dayanara, Honduras/USA
In their presentation the young people drew from their personal experiences and provided the audience with examples of children’s participation, ways of overcoming challenges and a call to action for adults, children and young people.
Opening statements were given by Ann Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF; H.E. Mr. José Luis Cancela, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the UN; and H.E. Mr. Martin Palouš, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the UN.
Closing statements were provided by Ms Ann-Kristin Vervik, Child Rights Manager, Plan Norway; H.E. Mr. Anders Lidén, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN; H.E. Mrs. Janine Coye-Felson, Ambassador and Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Belize to the UN; Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict; and Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children.
The event took place because Child Participation is the focus theme of the 2009 General Assembly resolution on the Rights of the Child. It is also the subject of the most recent General Comment issued by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
“We have seen adults listen to children and it inspires us.” Baleng, 16, Ghana