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At a glance: Italy

‘The Rights of Children’ photography book marks 20 years of child rights

© UNICEF/NYHQ 2009-1926/Pirozzi
In a photo taken this year, children clap at an early-morning school session held at a UNICEF-supported child-friendly school in Mbabane, Swaziland. All images on this page are from ‘The Rights of Children’, a book of photographer Giacomo Pirozzi’s work.

By Kathryn Grusovin

FLORENCE, Italy, 23 November 2009 – Last week in Rome, a magnificent new book of photographs articulating children’s rights was launched on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

‘The Rights of Children’, a 20th anniversary gift to UNICEF from Paolo Allori of Tipolito Duemila Group Srl and Edizioni Imprinting in Florence, offers deep testimony to the expression and violation of children’s rights through the luminous imagery of Giacomo Pirozzi.

The book launch was part of a series of commemorations held worldwide to reflect on the impact of the Convention in the lives of children over the last two decades. The events also served as a reminder of the enormous work that still lies ahead in protecting and realizing the rights of all children to good health, a basic education, safety and security, and a sense of well-being and happiness.

Documenting child rights
An Italian photographer based in Tuscany, Mr. Pirozzi started out as a sociologist before switching professions in 1990. Since then, he has worked for UNICEF and other development agencies, and his travels and photography have taken him to 105 countries in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and Africa.

The idea for the book came from Mr. Allori. Captivated by the power of Mr. Pirozzi’s rich body of work on children, he suggested collaborating on a project.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-2671/Pirozzi
In 2007, newborn twins are examined at a UNICEF-supported clinic for women and infants in Safo Oubamdawaki village, Niger, located a region that has suffered from high levels of chronic malnutrition.

“It wasn’t easy to do a book on my own work, and I didn’t know how to structure it,”  says Mr. Pirozzi, “but I discussed it with [UNICEF Senior Photography Editor] Ellen Tolmie, who came up with the idea of using the Convention on the Rights of the Child as its conceptual framework.”

Complex subject matter

Ms. Tolmie, who has directed UNICEF’s global photography operations since 1992, worked with colleague Nicole Toutounji to edit the 325 images in ‘The Rights of Children’ from an initial selection of 3,500.

“The book demonstrates documentary photography’s power to illuminate, the complex and abstract idea of children’s rights,” said Ms. Tolmie. “Mr. Pirozzi’s photography provides evidence of these rights in the daily lives of children, a visual articulation of human rights for the youngest among us.”

In the foreword, acclaimed actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow recounts witnessing child rights violations in many war-affected countries – often accompanied by Pirozzi. She affirms that everyone has the means to effect positive change in children’s lives by protecting them from threats of disease, discrimination, missed opportunity and untimely death.

© UNICEF/NYHQ1999-0619/Pirozzi
In 1999, Layla Khuwain holds her son, Sami Taleb, 2, who weighs only 7.5 kg, the result of severe malnutrition, at the UNICEF-assisted Nutritional Research Centre in the southern port city of Basra, Iraq, near the Kuwaiti border.
‘No concessions’

“I strongly believe that there can be no concessions about our commitment to child rights,” Ms. Farrow writes. “May this book be a call to action, inspiring us to work with tireless energy to see it fully honoured and its sphere of influence expanded to embrace all children, everywhere.”

The introduction, by Ms. Tolmie, describes photography’s historical depiction of children and its critical role as evidence in documenting – and affecting – the fulfilment or denial of children’s rights in daily life.

The Italian/English edition of ‘The Rights of Children’ is now available online, with part of the proceeds going towards the ‘Schools for Africa’ campaign, which is supported by the Italian National Committee for UNICEF.

It is anticipated that the book will eventually be available in other languages.



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