Celebrating 30 Years of Children and Young People’s Rights

‘For every child, the right to a childhood. For every child, every right.’

NICCY will bring together children and young people to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on Wednesday 20th November, by staging a day of celebration at W5 in Belfast. A Summit (see below) will be held during the day that is for children, by children and will echo NICCY’s call for the International Convention on their Rights to be incorporated into Northern Ireland domestic law.

Day of Celebration, 20th November, 2019

On International Children’s Day, almost 2,000 children and young people from across Northern Ireland will come together to celebrate their rights and the positive difference the UNCRC has made on their lives.

There will be a range of activities happening during the day, each adapted for differing age groups and abilities. We will be finalising these over the summer period but as examples, these may include a ‘Rights Treasure Trail’; Debates, ‘Speaker’s Corner’, Workshops and Play Areas.  NICCY will also provide the opportunity for participants to tell us their thoughts on our work.  

In September, we will provide attending groups with pre-event resources and exercises to help prepare the children and young people with additional information about World Children’s Day and the UNCRC. This will allow the children and young people to fully engage on the day and to avail of some of the opportunities we have planned.

More information will be added as activities are developed over the summer months.


There was an overwhelming amount of interest in the event via the initial ‘expression of interest’ feedback. Therefore to ensure the widest representation of children and young people from all over Northern Ireland, the number of children and young people from any one school / group will be limited to 30 (this does not include supporting adults). NICCY and W5 staff will be present on the day though supporting adults will have responsibility for looking after their own children and young people.

Children and Young People’s Summit

During the day, and as part of the overall programme, we will select a (limited) number of children and young people to deliver a short presentation to a panel of experts and/or decision makers on issues of importance to them and their peers. They will have the opportunity to express how their rights are not some intangible aspiration but are in fact everyday realities that impact their lives, both positively and sometimes negatively.

By learning more about their rights and through telling those in power to take action on the issues that matter to them most, the Summit will both celebrate the positive impacts of the UNCRC and light the way for lasting change to make Northern Ireland a child rights respecting place to grow up. It’s a global day of action for children, by children.

Further information on the format of the Summit and how young people will be selected will be added here in time for the new academic year. We would anticipate that participants will be representative of primary and post primary age. As part of the application process applicants will be asked to:

  • Outline the subject of their presentation and why they chose it (e.g. right to have a voice, poverty, homelessness, education, mental health); and
  • Explain how incorporation of the UNCRC would have a positive impact on their issue.

What is the UNCRC?

Thirty years ago, world leaders united around a common cause and adopted an international law on childhood, known as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UNCRC is an agreement signed by the UK Government (along with 196 other countries) that lists over 40 promises made to children and young people to ensure that they are treated equally and fairly. The 54 articles cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to which children are entitled.  The UNCRC also explains how adults and governments must work together to make sure all children can enjoy all their rights.  It has helped to transform children’s lives and it means that every child has a right to a childhood. It is designed to ensure that every child should survive and develop, never suffer discrimination, have decisions made in their best interests and have a right to participate and be heard.

Has the UK Government signed it?

Yes, they ratified it on 16 December 1991 and it came into force in January 1992. However, NICCY believes that to securely safeguard and protect these rights, the Convention must be fully enshrined into domestic law.

Thirty years on from signing the Convention, child rights have not changed, they have no expiry date. But childhood has changed. The increasing use of technology, climate change, changes in the environment, migration and prolonged conflict and its legacy are changing the lives of children in Northern Ireland. Today’s children face new threats to their rights, but they also have new opportunities to realise their rights.

How can I get involved?

NICCY is celebrating World Children’s Day #ForEveryChildEveryRight and encourages everyone who supports implementing the CRC into domestic law, to share our children and young people’s messages on Twitter and Facebook. For groups and organisations, a social media toolkit will be available to share our stories.

Mark the Day

As NICCY supports this UNICEF initiative through our day of celebration; organising a national summit for children and young people in Northern Ireland and advocating for commitments to action on their  rights. We are also encouraging as many organisations – statutory, voluntary, community and private, schools and youth organisations – to ‘Mark the Day’ and celebrate along with us the UNCRC and child rights.

There are many ways to ‘Mark the Day’ and we have made some suggestions below:

  • Debate a child rights motion in the council chamber;
  • Light up the City / Town Hall in blue (official UNICEF colour);
  • Ask the Mayor to visit schools / youth groups to learn about Children’s Rights or appoint shadow mayors for the day;
  • Tweet / Facebook support for Child Rights Day;
  • Educate staff on what the UNCRC means for their role;
  • Address your School Assembly;
  • C&YP to talk to adults about children’s rights; and/or
  • For pupils to wear blue for children’s rights or talk about class.

More information and suggestions on how to mark the day will follow shortly.

More Information 

For more information, please get in contact with the Participation team at NICCY on Participation@niccy.org or call 028 9031 1616.