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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors featured in video spots for child rights

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0678/Markisz
At UNICEF House in New York, Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow records a public service announcement on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

NEW YORK, USA, 9 November 2009 – UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassadors have joined in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by appearing in public service announcements meant to draw attention to the groundbreaking international human rights covenant. The CRC turns 20 on 20 November.

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In the 30-second PSAs, the prominent UNICEF supporters champion the myriad causes that are important to them. Actress and activist Mia Farrow, for example, speaks about the right of children to be protected from violence. Classical pianist Lang Lang addresses the right to play. And supermodel and businesswoman Claudia Schiffer talks about the right to quality education.

'Every child's right'
In her video spot, singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo says: “For too many children on this earth, to be alive is to be in hell. Forced to fight in wars … made to work in harmful jobs ... sexually exploited … or trafficked away from home and family. Let’s be clear: It’s every child’s right to be free from harm.”

The PSA campaign also features Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, singer and producer Youssou N’Dour, actor Ewan McGregor and Argentine-Venezuelan singer-songwriter Ricardo Montaner, among others.

Watch the full PSA series at UNICEF’s CRC 20th anniversary website, www.unicef.org/rightsite. More PSAs will be added in the following weeks.

Real lives, real change
Best-selling author Ishmael Beah, UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War, took part in the campaign because he has seen the need for the Convention firsthand. At the age of 13, he was recruited to fight in the civil war in Sierra Leone, and two years later – with help from UNICEF – he was able to escape and begin a new life.

The CRC bans the recruitment of children under the age of 18 into armed conflict.

“When people speak about rights, sometimes they think it’s just on paper,” says Mr. Beah. “This is about actually protecting human life, and if you can’t protect it from its infancy, when it’s young, when it’s vulnerable, then there’s no life later on.”

In Mr. Beah’s travels around the world for UNICEF, he has seen children whose lives, like his, are resilient enough for a second chance.

All rights, all children
The ambassadors hope they can help turn the world’s attention to the CRC, a legally binding international treaty that has helped shape legislation, guided the work of non-governmental organizations and changed the lives of millions of children.

© UNICEF video
Goodwill Ambassadors in UNICEF’s video spots emphasize core principles of the CRC: that every child has basic rights to health, education, protection and recreation, and that everyone has a responsibility to uphold them.

But the Convention has not yet fully succeeded in ensuring basic rights and services, protection from exploitation, and an improved life for all of the world’s children.

“The rights of the child are not being realized,” says Ms. Farrow, who has spent the last decade travelling for UNICEF to some of the world’s hardest hit conflict zones, including the Darfur region of Sudan, Angola, the Central African Republic and Haiti. “My sense of outrage accompanies me through all my days,” she adds.

Shared responsibility
What the CRC needs first – and what the ambassadors hope to achieve – is the basic acknowledgement that children have rights and that everyone has a responsibility to uphold them.

“We must open our eyes a little wider, open our hearts and become more active in shepherding the rights of the child,” asserts Ms. Farrow, “right down to the level where it actually influences every family, every adult and finally, every child.”




UNICEF correspondent Val Wang reports on the making of a series of Goodwill Ambassador public service announcements marking the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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