|Attending the ‘World Fit for Children Plus 5’ Youth Forum at UNICEF House were Lay Rattana (left), 17, from Cambodia, who also attended the 2002 UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, and Jiayang Ma, 17, from China.|
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 9 December 2007 – About 75 children from more than 50 countries met at UNICEF headquarters in New York today to prepare for a United Nations session on children’s rights this week.
The General Assembly is meeting to assess progress on ‘A World Fit for Children’, the plan of action that was adopted at the conclusion of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in 2002.
The two-day forum has been organized by UNICEF, Save the Children and the Global Movement for Children. It will train children to share their ideas effectively with each other – and with the international leaders they’ll be meeting in the coming days.
‘You can make it happen’
“Five years from 2002, we have still a long way to go to develop and experience a world fit for children,” UNICEF Senior Advisor on Adolescent Development Victor Karunan told the Youth Forum.
“The challenge is in your hands. You can make it happen,” he said, encouraging the children to be bold when sharing their ideas with adults in plenary sessions and roundtable discussions.
|Delegates to the ‘World Fit for Children Plus 5’ Youth Forum write down their expectations for the upcoming plenary session on child rights at the UN General Assembly.|
“Children have a right to be heard. We want you to turn that right into a reality,” added Bill Bell, head of Child Protection at Save the Children UK.
Progress and high hopes
Twenty children have been selected as official youth delegates to the UN meeting. Two will be chosen to address the General Assembly, one at the opening and one at the closing.
The plenary session coincides with the release of UNICEF’s five-year progress report on the goals set by the Special Session on Children in 2002. ‘Progress for Children: A Five-Year Statistical Review’ finds that important advances in child survival and school enrolment have been made, but major challenges in health, AIDS prevention and other areas remain.
Among the Youth Forum participants were several children who had attended the initial 2002 Special Session. From Botswana to New Zealand to Venezuela, all reported that they had seen progress in their countries in the past five years, and hopes were high.
“I’m excited,” said Galaletsang Matlhaga, 22, from Botswana. “We’re going to talk about something we all feel passionate about, and we are here to achieve a goal – and that is to get a better world for all children.”
|Youth delegates with moderator Michael Holmes at CNN studios in New York for a conversation via satellite with 'Elders' speaking from South Africa.|
CNN dialogue with three ‘Elders’
In another development earlier today, 12 Youth Forum participants travelled to the CNN studios in New York to take part in an inter-generational dialogue with three ‘Elders’ via a satellite link.
The results of their intercontinental chat with children’s advocate Graça Machel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former Irish President Mary Robinson – all of whom who were in a studio in Cape Town, South Africa – will be edited into a special TV programme to be broadcast on CNN International on Tuesday, marking the official opening of the UN session.
Moderated by CNN’s Michael Holmes, the dialogue gave the young people a chance to ask the Elders about a range of subjects affecting the world’s children, including HIV and AIDS, conflict, climate change and education.
A World Fit for Children Plus 5
Youth concerns top agenda at UN meeting
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