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Children demand a voice

© UNICEF/HQ02-0148/Markisz
Gabriela Azurduy Arrieta, 13, a delegate to the Children's Forum of the UN Special Session on Children, addresses the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations Special Session on Children in May 2002 was unique for the full participation of children.   For the first time in the history of UN meetings, more than 600 children were delegates and active participants. And for the first time in a formal session of the United Nations, children addressed the UN General Assembly and the Security Council on behalf of children everywhere, offering creative solutions and insisting that children's voices be respected.  "Your presence here marks a new chapter in the history of the United Nations," said Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Children were present as members of 142 national delegations and 106 non-governmental delegations.  More than 400 children, aged 8 to 18, also met in a three-day Children's Forum prior to the Special Session and produced their own declaration, A World Fit for Us

Even before the Special Session, however, children had made their voices heard through the national end-decade reviews of progress towards the goals of the World Summit for Children. Thousands of children contributed to reviews of progress towards the goals of the World Summit for Children in more than 135 countries and territories during 2000 and 2001.  In those reviews, they demanded that the voices of children be heard.

Children have also pressed their demands through opinion polls in various regions of the world, and the Voices of Youth website.

In 2003, UNICEF's flagship publication, the State of the World's Children, was dedicated to the theme of child participation and provided examples of meaningful child participation from every region of the world..

The mass media is an important channel for children's voices to be heard. Practical ways to encourage the participation of children in the media form a central theme of MAGIC, which stands for 'Media Activities and Good Ideas by, with and for Children', an online resource created by UNICEF, with support from the government of Norway.

One regular example of child participation in the media happens on the second Sunday of each December when thousands of television and radio broadcasters allow children to voice their hopes, dreams and needs, as reporters, writers, presenters and producers of programming for the International Children's Day of Broadcasting.



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