This event was held to raise awareness and create an understanding of Children’s and Young People’s Rights in the broader context of Human Rights overall – ‘Children’s Rights Are Human Rights’. Also, as a result of the issues being presented by Children and Young People during our engagement with them, though the ‘Your Voice Matters’ (YVM) programme in 2015- and in discussions with the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors (CVS) and other stakeholders in the 2015-‘16 business year.
During the YVM engagement, there were many issues raised by children and young people but one issue about which young people were most animated in discussions was ‘Community Safety’. This broad umbrella covered a range of issues from the continued influence of paramilitaries, to the impact of sectarianism in education, play and leisure activities, social activities, mental health and employment.
Our ‘Human Rights Festival’ event aimed to examine the absence and/or exclusion of Children and Young People from the Northern Ireland Peace Process, which itself aims to create a more peaceful, inclusive and stable society. The event focus was on the Right of the Child to be brought up in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity, as well as the Child’s right to have a say in all matters concerning them and to have their views taken into account – in keeping with UNCRC Articles and in particular Articles 12 and 29.
A central component was an examination of the ongoing impact of the conflict on the lives of Children and Young People here. Professor Phil Scraton and Dr Deena Haydon from the Childhood Transition and Social Justice Initiative at Queen’s University, delivered presentations on this theme. The event focused on advocating a ‘child rights approach’ – ensuring Children and Young People are central in developing solutions for a better future.
It is intended that the issues presented and the views expressed, be used to ‘inform’ NICCY’s work in 2016-‘17, the next Children’s and Young People’s Strategy and in providing ‘additional information’ to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. This is in response to the ‘List of Issues’ from the Committee in advance of the periodic examination of the UK State Party during 2016.