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Participation resource guide

Involvement in political decision-making


Conferences and consultations

Meaningful Youth Participation in International Conferences: A Case Study of the International Conference on War-Affected Children
CIDA, 2001 (Gail Cockburn)

 This is the summary of one of the largest international conferences Canada called the Winnipeg Conference, organized in September, 2000, on the issue of war-affected children. The young women and men, ranging from 15 to 23 years old, had an average age of 18. The Winnipeg Conference led to the Children’s Mandate for Peace and Rights, a special election that was held throughout Colombia on October 25, 1996. Then a year later, inspired by the success of the Children’s Mandate, Colombian adults held a national referendum, The Citizens’ Mandate for Peace, Life and Liberty. Both in 1998 and 1999, the Children's Mandate for Peace was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, the first time that children have ever been nominated for the award. This is one powerful example of how young people, if empowered and supported, can take the initiative to make a difference in the world. This paper is intended to contribute to the growing understanding of youth participation by sharing both the practical and philosophical approaches taken for youth participation at the Winnipeg Conference, and is intended to be useful to practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, advocates, and others interested in meaningful youth participation.

Our Future , Our Say
Plan International, 2005

An important aspect of Plan’s approach is to encourage children ( 12-18) to participate actively and genuinely in their own development. The dreams, opinions and frustrations featured here are echoed across the world as children demand progress on the promises made, insist that their rights are respected and call on world leaders to do the job that they and their predecessors committed to With Plan’s support, children from the Philippines, Ecuador, Colombia, the Netherlands and Malawi have debated how or if their lives changed in the five years after the Millennium Development Goals were established. Excerpts of the results are published here and represent a fascinating insight into the realities facing those who matter most – the children themselves. What emerges from the contributions is a sense of realism, frustration, responsibility and optimism, reinforced by a depth of understanding of the immediate and wider issues involved.

- Examples of children’s participation throughout the world
Published by: Save the Children, Plan International and War Child Holland (2009) Author: Alana Kapell Project Leader: Monica Lindvall

In response to the 2009 General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child, Plan International, Save the Children and War Child Holland are collaborating to promote children’s participation and to increase understanding and awareness of one of the CRC‟s general principles.

They are addressing issues of discrimination, poverty, abuse, violence, exploitation and more. Conducting research, helping to develop policies and monitoring the implementation of the CRC.  Within this document this organizations share only a sampling of these projects and initiatives. Loosely grouped within the clusters found in the Resolution on the Rights of the Child, they are highlighting what has already been achieved and, providing inspiration for all that is possible.  The benefits children's participation brings to the child, society, sustainable development, programming and more are apparent, but there is also the potential to support a broadened agenda on children’s civil rights and children’s role as active citizens.

Experience, Hope, Commitment Latin American Boys, Girls and Adolescents Together for a better Life
Save The Children Sweden 2002

The Regional Consultation of the Latin American and Caribbean Caucus was very fruitful for all participating boys, girls and adolescents from the region. We were all aware of the convenience of creating a space where we could clarify our views about and projects for a better future, as outlined in the document called “ A world fit for children”. The thoughts, feelings and national cultural diversity led to conclude that there exists among us a brotherhood that binds us in the struggle to have children’s rights respected and enforced. In the framework of the Latin American and Caribbean Caucus, this document was drafted to reflect the ideas, positions and possible solutions to the problems that hurt young people in Lain America most. This document is a diagnosis or identification of the region’s problems. The way to create it was through group dynamics and by dividing the region in two groups, i.e. the Andean nations, comprising Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela, and the Southern Cone region, including Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Argentina. The work has focused on the “main” issues, e.g. health, education, sexual education, child labor, justice and protection. The Latin American children, are working to change these conditions and called upon everybody to join them in building and carrying out this process.

Pulling a face at sexual exploitation
Pulling a face at sexual exploitation” celebrates the participation of children and adolescents in World Congress III. The report has been written especially for children and adolescents, taking into account the suggestions of children and adolescents at World Congress III on what it should contain. During the Preparatory Forum, a Report Working Group was formed, involving about 10 adolescents from different regions of the world. The group helped design this report by providing ideas on what the report should look like and what kind of information it should present. Based on these ideas, in this report you will find the main highlights of adolescent participation in the Preparatory Forum and World Congress III. What is also special about this report is that many adolescents from the Report Working Group contributed to it by providing their stories and sharing their thoughts and feelings on what was going on around them in the Congress.

Navigating International Meetings
- A Pocketbook Guide to Effective Youth Participation -
The United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada)

This Pocketbook gives concise information about the structure and process of United Nations (UN) meetings, looks at the different avenues available to youth for participating, and offers practical information for surviving an IM. The Guide also touches on important questions regarding the impact of IMs on the local, national, and international level that every past and potential participant should consider. Because so many international meetings assemble under the auspices of the UN, much of the information in this book was written with direct reference to the process of a UN meeting.The UN, however, is not the only international decision-making body. If you are planning to attend an international meeting that is not being organized by the UN, you will still find most of the information useful since much of the preparation, on-site activity, follow-up, and travel follows a similar course. As broad-based participation in international processes becomes increasingly crucial to balancing the forces of other significant international actors, youth perspectives and energy have the potential to stimulate, direct, and contribute to progressive change. This book will be a valuable resource for youth around the world participating in international meetings, be they on human rights, sustainable development, racism, gender, trade and finance, or any other global issue.

Cockburn, Gail, Meaningful Youth Participation in International Conferences: A case study of the international conference on war-affected children, CIDA, Winnipeg, 2000.
This paper includes sections on the definition and justification of children’s participation and on theprocesses of youth participation at an international event. It includes principles for youth participation and concrete guidelines based on experiences of adults and youth at the conference.

Dynamix Ltd, Participation – Spice it Up! Practical tools for engaging children and young people in planning and consultation, Save the Children UK, London, 2003.
This publication provides ideas and values that underlie youth participation approaches. It includes tried and tested examples of over 40 activities. The topics cover everything from getting started and gathering information to long-term planning and evaluation.
Email: dynamix@seriousfun.demon.co.uk

Ennew, Judith and Yuli Hastadewi, Seen and Heard: Participation of children and young people in Southeast, East Asia and Pacific in events and forums leading to and following up on the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children, May 2002, Save the Children, Bangkok, 2004.
This evaluation report looks at some specific experiences of Save the Children and its partners in South-East Asia, East Asia and the Pacific. It recognizes successes and failings of that regional process and identifies a number of ways the outcomes could be better achieved.

Etherton, Michael, Creating a Process Fit For Children: Children and young people’s participation in the preparations for the UN Special Session on Children, Save the Children, 2002.
This report evaluates Save the Children’s support for children and young people’s participation in the national, regional and international preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children.

Lansdown, Gerison, Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision Making, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, 2001.
Refer to the section on facilitating children’s participation in international conferences.

North American Regional Consultations, Focus Group 101: Guide for Facilitators, United Nations Secretary–General’s Study on Violence Against Children, 2003.
This guidebook was developed for young people to use when facilitating focus group discussions with other young people, especially for the North American Regional Contributions to the UN Global Study on Violence. It is a useful resource for adults who want to facilitate focus group discussions.

NSW Commission for Children and Young People, Taking Participation Seriously. New South Wales Commission for Children and Young People, Australia.
Booklet Four: Conferences and Events
Booklet Five: Meeting Together – Deciding Together

Taking Participation Seriously consists of six booklets that provide comprehensive information and practical tools for involving youth in decision-making processes. Conferences and Events provides ideas and activities for helping children play meaningful roles before, during and after events so that everyone benefits from their participation. It includes stories about young people’s participation in conferences. Meeting Together – Deciding Together helps young people to prepare for a meeting, participate during the meeting and debrief afterwards. It includes ‘child-friendly’ templates for invitations, agendas and minutes.

Save the Children, So You Want to Consult with Children? A toolkit of good practice, Save the Children Alliance, ISBN 82-7481-099-6, London, 2003.
This toolkit is based on the experience of Save the Children in helping to facilitate children’s meaningful participation in the process leading up to, and including, the 2002 UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. The toolkit lists everything that needs to be done to make sure that children participate in consultations in meaningful ways.

Save the Children, 12 Lessons Learned from Children’s Participation in the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, International Save the Children Alliance, London, 2004.
This booklet provides guidance on key principles and processes that have to be considered when involving children in conferences. It includes sections on creating an enabling environment, adult attitudes and behaviours, child protection, planning and budgeting.

The Alliance of Youth Executive Officers, Children and Young People: Participating in Decision-Making, 2003
The Alliance of Youth Executive Officers (the Alliance), represents a membership of over 100 million young people. Together with UNICEF they form a partnership with substantial practical experience in helping children and young people to fully participate in society. The concept of producing a guidance document on children and young people’s participation in decision-making was the result of a joint consultation held in May 2003. This document presents the justification and identifies the underlying principles for promoting the meaningful participation of children and young people in decision-making processes. The main barriers to achieving this goal are discussed and guidelines are provided on how to create a more conducive environment. The document ends with an appeal to individuals and institutions to rise to the challenge of moving this agenda forward.

Trimmer, Caspar, Guidelines for Organizing ‘Human Trafficking–Voices of Children’ National Forums, Save the Children UK and the ILO-IPEC East Asia Sub regional Office, Bangkok, 2003.
These guidelines were prepared for national forums on child trafficking. They cover the main ethical and practical issues that should be considered when organizing consultations with children.

UNICEF, A World Fit for Us: The Children's Statement from the UN Special Session on Children, Five years on, November 2007
The words that appear throughout this publication are the words of the 400 children from all around the world who gathered in New York in May 2002 to take part in the United Nations Special Session on Children. They came from over 150 countries. At the Children’s Forum, a ‘children only’ event that lasted for three days before the Special Session started, young people divided into groups to discuss the things that mattered to them most: child rights, exploitation, war, health care, HIV and AIDS, the environment, poverty, education and child participation. They then joined together to agree on a statement called ‘A World Fit for Us’. Two of them later read the statement to the UN General Assembly. This booklet is a report to children on the progress the world has made in their name in the five years since.

UNICEF, Children's Participation in Decision-Making, 2004
This paper has been prepared as a background document on children’s participation for the Second Intergovernmental Conference on Making Europe and Central Asia Fit for Children. It is intended to stimulate discussion on participation throughout the conference and lead to the adoption of recommendations for further actions, particularly for strengthening capacity to assess and monitor the extent of children’s participation.

UNICEF, C8 Protocol Pack, UNICEF, London, 2004.
UNICEF facilitated the participation of children and young people at the G8 for the first time in July 2005 to debate, discuss and put forward their agendas to the leaders of the G8. The protocol pack consists of forms and guidelines, such as evaluation forms, guidelines for chaperones and translators, media consent forms and travel checklists.
Email: youthvoice@unicef.org.uk

United Nations Association in Canada, Navigating International Meetings, A pocketbook guide to effective youth participation, UNAC, Ottawa, 2002.
This booklet gives concise information about the structure and process of United Nations meetings, looks at different avenues available to youth for participating and offers practical information for surviving such meetings. The guide also addresses important questions regarding the impact of these meetings on the local, national and international levels that every participant should consider.

UNODC, Equal Partners: Organizing “for youth by youth” events, UNODC, Vienna, 2001.

Veitch, Helen, Protocol on Children’s Participation at the Regional Consultation for the UN Study on Violence Against Children, Interagency Regional Steering Committee for the UN Study on Violence Against Children, Bangkok, 2005.
This protocol pack on facilitating children’s participation at consultations includes principles, standards, guidelines and forms for organizing children’s participation at consultations. It was developed through a participatory process.
Email: Henk.van.Beers@seap.savethechildren.se

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