UN Children's Forum
Children Are Heard at Issues Forum
By Suzanne Freeman
Before the UN Special Session on Children, the more than 300 young
delegates to the session met for three days at a Children's Forum.
The group held meetings and press conferences in a building on the
opposite side of Manhattan from the imposing UN complex at 42nd Street
and 1st Avenue. They spent three days preparing a statement to be
presented to the UN General Assembly, giving their view of the state
of the world's children, and offering their solutions.
Delegates from the Children's Forum hold a press conference
at the Manhattan Center in New York. From left are UNICEF moderator
Nicole Amorosa, and delegates Li Yi, 18, China; Lotoya Barnaby,
17, Jamaica; and Yassar Al-Fraih, 17, Saudi Arabia. (Suzanne Freeman)
stories and pictures of individual delegates to both the Children's
Forum and the UN Special Session on Children, click on the
Meet Aliya Allie, 13, of South Africa
Meet Claire Bradley, 18, of Northern
Meet Darren Andrews., 15, Jamiaca
Meet Edis, 12, of Indonesia
Meet Leidy Johana, 14, Sierra Vargas,
Meet Tom Burke, 17, England
"We hope all our views will be implemented," said Latoya Barnaby,
17, of Jamaica, during the forum. "We hope our voices will bring forth
some sort of action from our governments to make change."
The delegates divided their concerns into eight major issues, assigning
delegates to working groups on each issue. They first outlined the
problems, then made a list of what the governments should do, and
what they, as young advocates, should do to improve the lives of children
around the world. Their work was compiled into a document that was
read before the General Assembly of the UN at the opening of the Special
Session on Children.
This declaration of children's rights was then discussed throughout
the rest of the week, in committee meetings and closed negotiation
sessions. The goal was to have every member nation of the UN sign
the document. UNICEF would then be able to measure the success in
each country over the next 10 years, of turning the written policy
into reality in children's lives. UNICEF is the United Nations International
Children's Emergency Fund, which was in charge of the special session.
"What we put together from this conference is meant to last from 10
to 12 years," said delegate Laura Hannant, 16, of Canada, at a press
conference the first day of the special session. "This is going to
be the voice of children from now for a long time. You heard our voices
now. Are you going to keep listening?"