The State of the World's Children 2003
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The Special Session on Children, 8-10 May 2002, was an unprecedented meeting of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the children and adolescents of the world. It brought together government leaders and Heads of State, NGOs, children’s advocates and young people themselves. Some 400 young delegates from all over the world gathered in New York for the event.

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UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged young people to make a difference at the Special Session.

Wilmot Wunkgo, 16, addresses the Security Council.

“We are the children of war and victims and orphans of HIV/AIDS,” says Gabriella Azurduy Arrieta, 13, before the General Assembly.

“We have strong feelings...,” says Ha Lan Anh, 17.



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After three days of discussion and debate during the Children’s Forum, an event preceding the United Nations Special Session on Children, some 400 young people agreed on a statement to be presented to world leaders. Gabriela Azurduy Arrieta, 13, from Bolivia and Audrey Cheynut, 17, from Monaco were chosen by their peers to represent them. As the Special Session commenced on 8 May 2002, these two young delegates to the Forum stood before the General Assembly and delivered their message. On this historic occasion, for the first time ever, children formally addressed the UN General Assembly on behalf of children, giving voice to their vision for a better world.

A World Fit for Us

We are the world’s children.
We are the victims of exploitation and abuse.
We are street children.
We are the children of war.
We are the victims and orphans of HIV/AIDS.
We are denied good-quality education and health care.
We are victims of political, economic, cultural, religious and environmental discrimination.
We are children whose voices are not being heard: it is time we are taken into account.
We want a world fit for children, because a world fit for us is a world fit for everyone.

In this world,

We see respect for the rights of the child:

We see an end to exploitation, abuse and violence:

We see an end to war:

We see the provision of health care:

We see the eradication of HIV/AIDS:

We see the protection of the environment:

We see an end to the vicious cycle of poverty:

We see the provision of education:

We see the active participation of children:

We pledge an equal partnership in this fight for children’s rights. And while we promise to support the actions you take on behalf of children, we also ask for your commitment and support in the actions we are taking – because the children of the world are misunderstood.

We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them.
We are not expenses; we are investments.
We are not just young people; we are people and citizens of this world.

Until others accept their responsibility to us, we will fight for our rights.
We have the will, the knowledge, the sensitivity and the dedication.
We promise that as adults we will defend children’s rights with the same passion that we have now as children.
We promise to treat each other with dignity and respect.
We promise to be open and sensitive to our differences.

We are the children of the world, and despite our different backgrounds, we share a common reality.
We are united by our struggle to make the world a better place for all.
You call us the future, but we are also the present.


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