The UNCRC is the most widely ratified and comprehensive international Human Rights Convention. It revolutionised the relationship between children and their governments. Rather than being dependent on goodwill and charity, children became ‘rights holders’ and governments became ‘duty bearers’ with responsibility to meet an agreed set of rights that guarantee minimum standards to children of all ages and backgrounds.
Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People said:
“The right to participate and be heard is central to the Convention and the landmark anniversary will see nearly 2,000 primary and secondary school-aged children go on an educational journey through a series of rights-based challenges at W5, taking them from rights holders to child rights defenders.”
Schools, youth groups, councils and government departments across Northern Ireland are also marking World Children’s Day by holding rights-based assemblies, providing free sports classes, illuminating council buildings in the UNICEF blue and sharing messages on social media #ForEveryChild.
The UNCRC has helped to transform children’s lives globally but there is still a lot of work to be done at a local level. In celebration of this milestone, Children’s Rights Summits are taking place across the world to provide an opportunity for children to engage with local decision makers on the issues that matter most.
The NICCY Youth Panel, set up to advise the Commissioner in her day-to-day work and advocate for children’s rights in Northern Ireland have selected speakers from three primary schools, four secondary schools and one special school to present at the Summit.
Youth Panel member, Irène Attasseril, said:
“The 30th anniversary is a great opportunity for young people to speak directly to our politicians – those elected to safeguard our rights and make decisions in our best interests.
“It’s clear to see from the passionate response we received to our call for entries that despite coming a long way in 30 years, common issues continue to challenge us and are detrimental to us realising our rights. These include identity in a divided society, mental health, educational inclusion, access to healthcare, homelessness and climate change.”
Delegates include more than 100 children and young people and senior figures from across government and the statutory, community and private sectors who will debate the issues on the day.
Children’s Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma added:
“In 1989, world leaders united around a common cause and agreed to guarantee a set of rights specific to children, in the form of the UNCRC. Thirty years on, children’s rights are still as relevant today as they were then – they have no expiry date. On World Children’s Day we should all celebrate the fact that children’s rights remain special and distinct and make a renewed commitment to safeguard against any breaches, to listen to and be guided by, our young people.
“The UNCRC tells Governments that children’s rights must be considered when taking decisions, to help provide every child with a good start in life and a safe, healthy and fulfilling life. Only by incorporating the UNCRC into domestic law can we ensure that Northern Ireland is one of the best places in the world to grow up.”
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