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UNICEF to unveil Cartoons for Children's Rights campaign

Tuesday, 16 December 1997: UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy and American television actress and US Committee for UNICEF National Ambassador Jane Curtin will give a special preview on Thursday of the 'Cartoons for Children's Rights' public service announcement campaign -- the first global initiative to use animation to promote child rights.

The event, which will be held at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Theater in Burbank, California, will feature a sampling of the 100 30-second animated public service announcements being produced by the world's top animation studios. The spots will be part of a three-cycle roll-out beginning in January and February of 1998 to participating US and international broadcasters.

"With 'Cartoons for Children's Rights' we will continue our fight for improved health care, education and quality of life for every child born," says Ms. Bellamy. "The powerful impact that an animated image can have means our message can be communicated instantly to children and parents around the globe."

Over 80 animation houses, including MTV Animation, Walt Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO Animation and Warner Bros., have embraced the cause, donating everything from storyboards and concepts to completed public service announcements in an effort to spread the message that children have rights. These include the right to survive, to be educated, to have a name and a nationality as well as the right to live free of war, sexual abuse, homelessness and poverty. The initiative represents the work of some of the most renowned animators in more than 25 countries and of every known animation technique, including cutout, CGI, stop-motion, sand animation and traditional cel animation.

"We're using the international language of animation to spread the word that what kids think, feel and want in life matters," says Don Hahn, producer of Disney's 32nd animated feature 'The Lion King' and host of the 'Cartoons for Children's Rights' launch at the Walt Disney Studios.

At the launch, Jane Curtin will announce the Cartoon Network's donation of $75,000 to UNICEF to enable animation artists from developing countries to participate in the project. Grant recipients from Indonesia, Syria, Chile and Bulgaria, among other countries, have already begun work on the design and production of their spots.

UNICEF will offer 'Cartoons for Children's Rights' spots free to participating broadcasters in every continent for integration into their individual broadcast schedules. The first set of 27 public service announcements will be delivered to broadcasters on a distribution reel in January and February 1998, with a second set of approximately 30 spots becoming available at the end of the summer and the last set ready in early 1999.

Begun in 1995 as the brainchild of C.J. Kettler, president and chief operations officer of Sunbow Entertainment in New York, 'Cartoons for Children's Rights' was created to bring together animators, animation companies and distributors to support the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is the first universal human rights declaration; it sets minimum standards that governments must meet in providing health care, education and legal and social services to children around the world. Participants in 'Cartoons for Children's Rights' choose one of the CRC's 54 articles to animate, for example, the right to protection from the consequences of war, the right to safe water and the right to freedom of expression.

'Cartoons for Children's Rights' hopes to build on the extensive worldwide broadcast community that is already participating in UNICEF's International Children's Day of Broadcasting held each year in December. That event involves more than 2,100 broadcasters in over 150 countries, including Nickelodeon (USA), TV Cultura (Brazil), RTL (Germany) and NBC (Namibia). For its new initiative, UNICEF anticipates an equal amount of enthusiasm and has already received commitments to broadcast animation spots from over 15 countries including the US, Canada, Italy and Spain.

UNICEF believes that a solid network of broadcasters willing to air these unique public service announcements will ensure the success of 'Cartoons for Children's Rights.' Broadcasters are invited to become charter members of the campaign by making a commitment to air the entire group of child rights public service announcements over the next two years.

Please email with comments or requests for more information, quoting CF/DOC/PR/1997/64.

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