Young people develop Bucharest Children’s Declaration ahead of EU Summit

Calling on political leaders to consult young people in decision-making

Ioana Nicolescu and Anca Teodorescu for UNICEF Romania
Members of Romanian Children's Board smile as they bring their hands together, on March 29, 2019, in Bucharest, Romania.
UNICEF Romania/Kostyak

06 May 2019

BUCHAREST, Romania - The past four months have been anything but ordinary for Ariana, Rareș and their new friends, boys and girls coming from various regions throughout Romania, with diverse backgrounds and hobbies.  

They have been working together to answer one question: how can they make children’s ideas and solutions matter in today’s world? A world affected by a broad range of issues. They have been meeting online and offline every two weeks and with inputs from young people from across the EU have drafted the “Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration”.

“We want to start a culture where children's voices aren't heard only by other children, but by adults as well. A society where our voices really begin to matter, and we can have real, equal dialogue with adults,"

said Ariana Ardelean, a 12th grader from Baia Mare in north-western Romania and a Junior Ambassador to the EU.

The Declaration has been distributed to children throughout Europe for feedback. It calls on EU leaders to listen to children’s voices when they make decisions that concern their future.

Members of the Romanian Children's Board sign a letter addressed to EU leaders calling for inclusion of children children in decision-making processes.
UNICEF Romania/Dinulescu
Members of the Romanian Children's Board sign a letter addressed to EU leaders calling for inclusion of children children in decision-making processes.

The document will be adopted together with over 30 other children from across the EU, during the International Conference on “Children's Participation in Decision-Making and Policy-Making at the European Union level” held in Bucharest on the 6 and 7 of May. Dozens of European child rights experts, authorities and other decision makers will take part in the event. The initiative is supported by the Romanian Ministry of Labor and Social Justice through the National Authority for the Protection of the Child’s Rights and Adoption (NAPCRA) and UNICEF in Romania, as part of the rotating Presidency of the EU Council, held by Romania until the end of June 2019. The Children’s Conference and adoption of the Bucharest Declaration will take place immediately before EU leaders meet on 9 May 2019, at a summit in Sibiu, Romania.

 

Child participation is essential for the future of Europe

"All over Europe children are taking to the streets, but it is time that formal mechanisms are established for children to have their voices heard. The Bucharest EU Children’s Declaration is an urgent call on the EU and its Member States to accept that child participation is essential for the future of Europe," said Pieter Bult, the UNICEF Representative in Romania.

“Children think outside the box, they are open to change and have unbiased views,” Bult added, stressing that these are critical traits that can help find solutions to the world’s most persistent problems, such as poverty, climate change, migration, or the rise of populism.

The draft Declaration, among other requests, asks for “a clear and simple monitoring and evaluation mechanism” to be in place “for child participation” and for “regular reports” to be provided at local, national and EU levels.

“The right to participate, even if it is equally important as other rights mentioned in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is almost invisible on the public and community agenda,” said Cristina Cuculaș, a NAPCRA Representative.

Members of the Romanian Children's Board together in front of the Romanian Parliament.
UNICEF Romania
Members of the Romanian Children's Board stand together in front of the Romanian Parliament.

Twenty percent of the EU citizens are children

“We represent 20 percent of the total of EU citizens. One cannot ignore such a substantial proportion of the population in the decision-making process,” says Rares Chioreanu, a high school student who is passionate about technology. Rares lives in the Transylvanian city of Cluj and is a member of the Romanian Children’s Board, made up of the 20 children who initiated the Declaration.

In the past four months, the members of the Children’s Board have become friends. They are serious about child participation, but they always take time to joke together when they meet. They talk about online trends, politics and the environment and they all hope that their call to action will strike a chord with the EU Heads of state taking part in the coming Informal Summit in Sibiu, on May 9.

For Lorena Condei, a 15-year-old high school student coming from a vulnerable community in Eastern Romania, this process is a “fight to defend children in the EU who feel alone, who do not know their rights or how to practice them”.