Photo Essay

Girls' education

Promoting a culture of peace


Jonathan, 9, holds a dove
© UNICEF/HQ97-0681/ LeMoyne

Jonathan, 9, holds a dove.  Over 100,000 children have become active participants in the Children's Movement for Peace in Colombia, founded as a coalition of children's groups in different parts of the country protesting the high level of violence in the country. Ongoing civil conflict has displaced more than one million people in the last 10 years, 70% of whom are children and women, with murder the leading cause of death among Colombians over age 15.
In response, Colombian children have assumed a leading role in building peace in their country. Following a national campaign led by the children's movement -- supported by Redepaz (a national peace network) with assistance from UNICEF -- 2.7 million children aged 7-18 voted for peace, producing the Children's Mandate for Peace and Rights which they presented to the national Congress. 10 million adults (twice the usual voter turnout) voted to endorse the children's mandate.
The children's movement is credited with helping ensure that peace talks between the Government and a 35-year-old guerrilla insurgency were re-started. Also in 1998, in recognition of their achievements, 1996 Peace
Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor nominated the Colombian Children's Movement for Peace for the Nobel Peace Prize.