20 Years - The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah, best-selling author and human rights spokesperson, was appointed UNICEFís first Advocate for Children Affected by War in 2007.  ďFor me itís just a way to give me more strength to continue doing what Iíve already embarked on, what Iíve dedicated my life to doing Ė which is to make sure that what happened to me doesnít continue to happen to other children around the world,Ē he said.

In 1991, the outbreak of a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone upended the lives of millions. Eleven year-old Ishmael Beahís parents and two brothers were killed. He was forcibly recruited into the war at age 13. After two years, with UNICEF help, he was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown.

Mr. Beah continues his advocacy to help change the course for the thousands of children still trapped in wars. In 2008, he co-founded the Network of Young People Affected by War (NYPAW) with a mission to raise awareness of the plight of children in conflict zones, advocate for an end to hostilities and provide role models for children who are currently struggling to recover from war.

Ishmael Beahís book, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier was published in the United States in 2007. It has since been published in Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia and appears in over 35 languages

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