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Young reporters bring unique perspectives to child rights conference in Armenia

By Chris Schuepp

YEREVAN, Armenia, 6 July, 2011 – Young reporters here in the Armenian capital took over the cameras and the microphones last month at an international conference on child rights organized by UNICEF and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

VIDEO: 17 June 2011 - UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri talks to young reporters about the outcome of the international conference on child rights organized by UNICEF and the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Yerevan.


Making full use of a special youth blog and social media channels, they reported on events unfolding in real time.

Entitled ‘Making child rights a reality for the most vulnerable children’, the 14-16 June conference focused on early childhood development, violence against children and how parliamentarians can influence child rights positively in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CEE-CIS.

© UNICEF Armenia/2011/Schuepp
Nane Abelyan, 16, a youth reporter, 'tweets' live from the plenary session at a child-rights conference held in Yerevan, Armenia by UNICEF and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Youth reporters Nane Abelyan, 16, Inessa Manukyan, 15, Norair Baroyan, 14, and Hovnan Baghdasaryan, 16, also visited the Manana Youth Educational-Cultural Centre several times during the conference to develop their creative skills with other children. Manana is a multimedia training centre that works to develop the talents of young Armenians.

A first for the region

“The young reporters brought a remarkable spirit to the conference,” said UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri. “We saw such a wide coverage posted on a large variety of media and so many people being interviewed with very thoughtful questions.”

Young reporters have reported on other major conferences with support from UNICEF, but for the first time in this region, their efforts at the UNICEF-IPU conference were posted on a blog and updated frequently.

© UNICEF Armenia/2011/Schuepp
Youth journalists interview UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri at the international conference on child rights organized by UNICEF and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

“The sense of immediacy is really evident. We are really pleased and intend to continue this approach for future regional events,” said UNICEF Regional Chief of Communication John Budd.

Girls lead the way

Most of the interviews conducted at the conference were led by Nane and Inessa. The two girls were well prepared – keen to make sure there was no room for simple “yes” or “no” answers from the parliamentarians and international experts who were in Yerevan for the meeting.

All video interviews shot at the conference were uploaded quickly to the youth blog and shared through Twitter and Facebook. They were also linked to many UNICEF country offices’ social media sites, as well as Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s online forum for young people around the globe.

“I liked the lively and helpful discussions after every session and the active participation of all the representatives,” said Inessa. “The whole atmosphere during the three days was nice, and to see that people care so much about children is great!”

© UNICEF Armenia/2011/Schuepp
UNICEF Regional Child Protection Advisor Jean Claude Legrande, explains talks to young journalists at the UNICEF and Inter-Parliamentary Union conference on child rights.

Young voices

UNICEF has long supported youth media initiatives in the CEE-CIS region, including the OneMinutesJr Project, which conducts workshops where young people aged 12 to 20 create 60-second videos addressing issues of concern to them. Armenian children and adolescents, including those working with the Manana youth centre, have won OneMinutesJr. annual awards in the past.

When the idea for real-time youth coverage of the UNICEF-IPU conference came up, the centre’s leadership was highly enthusiastic about providing another opportunity for young people’s voices to be heard.

“We have an open-door system here,” said the Manana centre’s founder, Rouzan Baghdasaryan. “There is always something going on. The children come right after school and start doing animation, filming and drawing. During their school holidays, we usually have at least 20 or 30 children in the different rooms of the centre, busy experimenting with the technical equipment and developing new projects all the time.”

Worldwide dialogue

The UNICEF-IPU conference in Yerevan focused on investing in a good start in life for marginalized children, and protecting them from violence. Participants examined how parliamentarians can help to protect these children and ensure respect for child rights.

IPU, a key UNICEF partner, is the international organization of parliaments. As the forum for worldwide parliamentary dialogue, IPU works for peace and cooperation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.



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