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NEW YORK, 10 May 2002 - Declaring that "we want a world fit for children, because a world fit for us is fit for everyone," young people from more than 100 nations sent a powerful message to world leaders gathered at the United Nations Special Session on Children this week.
After three days of discussion and debate that ended Tuesday evening, nearly 400 young people taking part in the offical Children's Forum unanimously agreed to a 700-word message to world leaders.
The statement was delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday morning, in the first hour of the GA's Special Session on Children. It was the first time children had ever addressed the UN General Assembly on a substantive issue.
Two young delegates to the Children's Forum were chosen by their peers to deliver the statement: Gabriela Azurduy Arrieta, 13, from Bolivia, and Audrey Cheynut, 17, from Monaco.
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy was visibly moved by the work the young delegates put into their statement, and their resolve and dignity in presenting it to world leaders. "I believe that for the first time in the history of the United Nations, children are not just being seen - they are being heard," Bellamy said. "The young people have not only been eloquent, they have taken responsibility and shown incredible commitment. I hope it serves to inspire the leaders attending this conference."
Some 60 summit-level leaders are in attendance at the Special Session, part of more than 180 high-level government delegations. More than 3,000 non-government delegates are also taking part, all of them concerned about children and nearly half of them from the developing world, where children face the greatest challenges to survival, health, education and well-being.
"We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them," the children said in their statement. "We are not expenses; we are investments. We are not just young people; we are people and citizens of this world. You call us the future. But we are also the present."
Government delegations at the Special Session are reviewing progress made toward global goals for children that were set in 1990. They are also expected to agree to a new set of goals for the next decade.
* * * Read the full statement issued by children at www.unicef.org Photos of the children are also available .
For further information, please contact:
UNICEF Media, New York: (212) 326-7261 or (212) 326-7593
Daily satellite feeds are also available from the Special Session. For more information visit: