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Children play a key role in Nepal’s commitment to unity

UNICEF Image: Nepal
© UNICEF Nepal/2008/Pandey
During a ceremony in Nepal, children greet politicians with a traditional song of welcome and unity.

By John Brittain

KATHMANDU, Nepal, 25 March 2008 – Even as violence makes itself felt once again in Nepal, the rights of children are being assured at the highest levels.

On 20 March, just days before the United Nations declared next month’s elections in jeopardy because of the assassination of a candidate, politicians from all sides came together in the capital for a unique event for children.

Representatives of Nepal's political parties signed a Joint Declaration of Commitment to Children, pledging to “ensure that the state will allocate resources to the maximum extent possible to meet the basic needs and fulfil the rights of children.”

© UNICEF Nepal/2008/Pandey
Many of Nepal's politicians came together to sign a commitment pledging resources to meet the basic rights of children in the country’s new constitution

All of the political parties – who have declared themselves ready to participate in Nepal’s historic elections for a Constituent Assembly – were invited to sign the Joint Declaration.

“The politicians have shone a real light on proceedings here,” said former UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam, who moderated the event. “After all the dark days and disagreements, it is important to recognize that all Nepalis, and especially the political representatives, understand the need to nurture and protect our children – who are, of course, our future.”

The future of Nepal

The ceremony – during which children shared the stage with the politicians – was organized by UNICEF, the Save the Children Alliance and the Consortium of the Organizations working for Child Clubs, in cooperation with the political parties of Nepal.

© UNICEF Nepal/2008/Pandey
Former UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam is joined by two young speakers to address the assembled politicians.

Children performed a song of welcome and then presented their views on the framing of the country’s new constitution. The politicians joined hands with the children and declared their commitment to putting children first “in setting out our vision for Nepal.” 

The event culminated in the signing of the Joint Declaration by all political parties present, giving a tantalizing glimpse of the power of political unity and what it could mean for the future of Nepal.

“This is a truly historical moment for Nepal,” said Mr. Gautam. “The men and women who made this pledge to our children today represent the whole of our country. They hold the unity of our country in their hands. Working with and for our children to build the new constitution should be seen as a precious right.” 



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