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Youth Forum sets stage for ‘A World Fit for Children Plus 5’ UN meeting

© UNICEF/2007/Markisz
Attending the ‘World Fit for Children Plus 5’ Youth Forum at UNICEF House were Lay Rattana (left), 17, from Cambodia, who also attended the 2002 UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, and Jiayang Ma, 17, from China.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, USA, 9 December 2007 – About 75 children from more than 50 countries met at UNICEF headquarters in New York today to prepare for a United Nations session on children’s rights this week.

The General Assembly is meeting to assess progress on ‘A World Fit for Children’, the plan of action that was adopted at the conclusion of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in 2002.

The two-day forum has been organised by UNICEF, Save the Children and the Global Movement for Children. It will train children to share their ideas effectively with each other – and with the international leaders they’ll be meeting in the coming days.

‘You can make it happen’

“Five years from 2002, we have still a long way to go to develop and experience a world fit for children,” UNICEF Senior Advisor on Adolescent Development Victor Karunan told the Youth Forum.

“The challenge is in your hands. You can make it happen,” he said, encouraging the children to be bold when sharing their ideas with adults in plenary sessions and roundtable discussions.

© UNICEF/2007/Markisz
Delegates to the ‘World Fit for Children Plus 5’ Youth Forum write down their expectations for the upcoming plenary session on child rights at the UN General Assembly.

“Children have a right to be heard. We want you to turn that right into a reality,” added Bill Bell, head of Child Protection at Save the Children UK.

Progress and high hopes

Twenty children have been selected as official youth delegates to the UN meeting. Two will be chosen to address the General Assembly, one at the opening and one at the closing.

The plenary session coincides with the release of UNICEF’s five-year progress report on the goals set by the Special Session on Children in 2002. ‘Progress for Children: A Five-Year Statistical Review’ finds that important advances in child survival and school enrolment have been made, but major challenges in health, HIV prevention and other areas remain.
Among the Youth Forum participants were several children who had attended the initial 2002 Special Session. From Botswana to New Zealand to Venezuela, all reported that they had seen progress in their countries in the past five years, and hopes were high.

“I’m excited,” said Galaletsang Matlhaga, 22, from Botswana. “We’re going to talk about something we all feel passionate about, and we are here to achieve a goal – and that is to get a better world for all children.”






December 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the Youth Forum that is preparing children to participate in a UN plenary session on child rights. 
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