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Photo: Kurdish girl. Iraq, 1997. Copyright Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas
Photo: Kurdish girl. Iraq, 1997. Copyright Sebastiao Salgado/Amazonas

This page is background information, last updated in May 2002 and still available for reference. For the latest on the Special Session on Children, please go to the Special Session index.

Under-18 zone

This section provides information to children and young people on child-focused activities that will take place at the United Nations Special Session on Children, 8-10 May 2002.

Recent stories

The Special Session through the eyes of four young leaders: Abigail, Jehanzeb, Malal, and Miryam.

Young people plead to be heard and taken seriously

Young people speak their mind in advance of the Special Session on Children

Children's Forum

The Children's Forum, an important side event of the Special Session on Children has been rescheduled to take place in New York City from Sunday 5 to Tuesday 7 May 2002.

The three day Children's Forum will bring together members of government- and accredited NGO delegations under the age of 18. The Children's Forum will be facilitated by UNICEF, in collaboration with the 'Under 18 Participation Task Force' (U18PTF) of the NGO Steering Committee on UNICEF and children's groups.

As agreed before, a maximum of two children per government and two per NGO delegation will attend the Forum. Children who were invited to participate in September 2001 will be invited to participate in May. Even though the Forum is meant for children and adolescents under the age of 18, those children who were confirmed to participate and who have turned 18 between September and May will still be welcome to participate.

Because of limited space and the large number of children expected to enrol at the Forum, UNICEF cannot accommodate any new nominations from NGOs who did not already pre-register children in September 2001.

Purpose of the Children's Forum

The Children's Forum will aim to:

  • Give an opportunity to child participants to share the recommendations from the preparatory regional meetings and preparatory committee meetings and to further explore the issues of the draft Outcome Document of the Special Session, A World Fit for Children;
  • Enable participants to discuss ways in which they, as children and young people, can be actively involved in the implementation and monitoring of the goals as outlined in the draft Outcome Document;
  • Enable participants to identify constructive ways on how they can influence their governments, UN agencies, NGO's and other decision-makers on programmes designed to benefit children.
Youth representatives discuss the Prepcom outcome document during the third Prepcom (11-15 June 2001)
Child friendly versions of Official Documents

We believe that it is vital that documents for the Special Session are available in a way that children and young people can understand. Save the Children has produced a child friendly version of the draft Outcome Document (with a dictionary) and child friendly summary of 'We the Children'. These documents are only available in English at this time but will also be posted in French and Spanish. The young person's guide to the United Nations Special Session on Children is available in English, French and Spanish.

A young person's guide to: The United Nations Special Session on Children [word, English, French, Spanish]

Child friendly version of the draft outcome document 'A World Fit for Children' [word, 1 MB]

Dictionary [word, 1 MB]

Summary of 'We the Children' [word]

Expected outcome

The outcome of the Children's Forum will be presented to the plenary of the Special Session as decided by the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children.

During the Forum, it is expected that the participants develop their own responses to the Outcome Document of the Special Session and possible follow-up action. These will be in line with the ten points of the Rallying Call of the Global Movement for Children and the Say Yes for Children campaign.

For more information on the Children's Forum

Questions and Answers [word]

A briefing for accompanying adults of children attending the Children's Forum will be held on Sunday 5 May. The meeting will address issues of protection and security as well as logistics and will take place in Labouisse Hall at UNICEF House, right after the opening ceremony of the Children's Forum, from 11.00-12.00 noon. In addition, for accompanying adults of children who will not attend the Children's Forum, a briefing will be held on Tuesday 7 May, 12.45-1.45, 2nd Floor, Church Centre, First Avenue and 44th Street.

Note on briefing for accompanying adults [word]

A briefing for 'under-18' delegates to the Special Session who cannot attend the Children's Forum will be held on Tuesday 7 May.

Note on a briefing for children who cannot attend the Children's Forum, but who will be in New York [word]


Space and activities for children and young people during the Special Session on Children
Hamid Braoui, 17, of Algeria, Kelzang Dorjee, 14, of Bhutan and Mehdi Laouti, 15, of Algeria at the third Prepcom.

Labouisse Hall in UNICEF House (3 UN Plaza, 44th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue) will be available as a meeting place for Under 18 members of delegations during the three days of the Special Session.

Computers, a copying machine and audio/visual equipment will be available. Throughout the Special Session there will be side events in which young people can also take part. More information on side events will be made available closer to the time of the Special Session.

Draft agenda of the Children's Forum [pdf | word]
Guidelines on selection and participation [pdf | word]

For any further queries on the Children' s Forum or child participation in the Special Session on Children, you may contact Jeannette Wijnants or Josephine Rajasegera (Fax (1) 212-824 6470)


Share your experiences and ideas through Voices of Youth

If you cannot attend the Children's Forum and the Special Session on Children, but you are still interested to be involved and give your comments, we invite you to make use of web message board discussions at the UNICEF youth rights web project, "Voices of Youth".

The purpose of the message board, which is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, is to gather young people's experiences about their activities, realities and challenges. The message boards--available in three languages--can be accessed by going to:

English: http://www.unicef.org/voy/misc/ssoc.html
French: http://www.unicef.org/voy/fr/misc/ssoc.html
Spanish: http://www.unicef.org/voy/es/misc/ssoc.html

In addition, Voices of Youth will be hosting activities during the Children's Forum and Special Session.

  • Profiles and interviews of young experts and activists
  • An Internet dialogue/chat as a way to bring the events to young people who are unable to attend the Forum and Special Session
  • "File your stories"-a way for young people at the events to give feedback on issues and their impressions of the events via an on-line form.

For more information on these activities and on "Voices of Youth" please contact Rosemary Max (Fax: (1) 212- 824 6481)


Lessons Learned on Children's Participation in Conferences

From observing children's participation in several international conferences, including regional preparatory meetings of the Special Session and the Preparatory Committee meetings, we have learned some of the following lessons

  • Children need to have a clear role when taking part in a conference;
  • Children want to be treated as partners when taking part in a conference where they have been invited by adults;
  • Children want to be taken seriously by adults;
  • Children want to take part in mainstream events, and not just in parallel activities (this is why the Children's Forum will take part prior to the Special Session on Children)
  • Children need to be able to meet in their own space, time and ways appropriate to their age and adults should accept this.


Young people at the third Prepcom

Some 140 children and young people, under the age of 18 years, from all around the world were in New York City to attend the third and final Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the UN Special Session on Children from 11-15 June. These children and young people were members of government delegations or delegations of around 3,500 non-governmental organizations (NGOs).


Profiles: young people at the Prepcom (11-15 June 2001)

© Copyright UNICEF/DHQ032/Susan Markisz Profile: Punish child abusers, says Rishtha

Profile: Griselda from El Salvador has no fear

© UNICEF/DHQ033/Susan Markisz Profile: Liyi comes on a learning and teaching mission

© copyright UNICEF/DHQ035/Susan Markisz Profile: Getting involved changed Vadim's life

© Copyright UNICEF/DHQ031/Susan Markisz Profile: Kenya's Yvonne speaks for Africa

Profile: Kelzang carries Bhutan children's hopes

Video views

Young participants talk to UNICEF's roving video team about their hopes for the future of children worldwide and in their home countries.





Check out the complete index of all UNICEF's Prepcom coverage.


Special Session home

Background information:

Agenda & activities
Preparatory process
Information for NGOs
Child rights in action
How is your country doing?
What you can do
Press centre
Under-18 zone
Contact us
Official coverage (United Nations)


Resources for young people

Visit Voices of Youth, a forum where young people can speak their mind and share their experiences with other participants around the world.

What's up with the Special Session on Children? Find out what it's all about in this brochure (PDF).

Take a look at our exclusive cartoons Spread The Jam.