2,000 children & young people celebrate 30 years of children’s rights on World Children’s Day

20 November 2019 News
30 Years of Children's Rights

Children and young people of all ages from across Northern Ireland will converge on W5 in Belfast on World Children’s Day today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) will also host a Children’s Summit at the venue as part of an international day of action calling for the UNCRC to be incorporated into domestic law.

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.


Notes to editors:

  • At the Summit, NICCY will launch a new animation calling for incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law, produced in partnership with the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). You can view the video here and this is free to use.
  • Find out more about what schools and organisations are doing to Mark the Day on 20th November across Northern Ireland.
  • The UNCRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world, signed by the UK Government in 1991. It lists 42 Articles made to children and young people to ensure that they are treated equally and fairly. These promises cover all aspects of a child’s life and set out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights to which children are entitled.

For further information:

Please contact the Communications team at NICCY; james@niccy.org or 07917 544 177.