My Experience at the UN 30 Year Celebration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Exhibition
In this article, I would like to share my experience regarding my participation in the United Nations Celebration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 2019 Event “30 Years of Children’s Rights: Where We Are And Where We Want To Be”. This event took place in September at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.
I was asked to attend this event through my engagement and volunteer work with Child Rights Connect, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva. For months leading up to the conference, I had been collaborating with Child Rights Connect and an international advisory team of 10 youth, to help draft and create the first child-friendly version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)!
This project was a UNICEF supported project and was absolutely incredible to be a part of. Not only did I get to read the entire adult version of the convention document, I also got to help condense it, make it easier for children to understand, and make the overall appearance of the document more bright and engaging by adding fun colours, attracting symbols and making the document accessible for all children!
I would like to thank the Inter-American Children´s Institute (IIN) for referring me to work with this international child advisory team, and would like to thank Child Rights Connect for facilitating all of our communication and ideas. It was truly extraordinary to help contribute to the forming of a child-friendly version of the CRC and thus, contribute to the history of children’s rights.
Once the child-friendly document of the CRC was complete and approved by UNICEF, all the children who helped create it were proud and excited. Shortly after being approved, the advisory children were informed that the child-friendly document would be revealed and discussed at an event at the United Nations in Geneva in September of 2019. Child Rights Connect organized for 2 of the children on the advisory team to travel to this event to speak about their experience helping draft the child-friendly version and how much children’s rights and accessibility to resources means to them. These 2 children were Zcyrel from the Philippines and Maria from México! Child Rights Connect also had an opportunity for a young human rights defender to help with the closing of the event and to help promote the event over social media! This is where I came in! I was honoured to have the role of giving the concluding remarks for the event and using my influence on social media to spread information about the event!
My journey to the event in Geneva began September 14th and I was super excited to have my sister join me as my accompanying adult. She was equally excited as she is a very proud and vocal feminist therefore she was humbled at the opportunity to visit the United Nations, as they are an institution committed to promoting women’s rights and gender equality across the world. We both arrived on the 15th and spent the rest of the day preparing my various social media handles to diffuse the information about the event.
My Instagram account @amyyspears was the handle which would be used the most and therefore we worked together to create the content that we wanted to share to the world. On the night of the 15th was the big reveal of a video that UNICEF created in celebration of the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s 30th Anniversary. I shared this video to my Instagram and immediately my handle started receiving tons of positive comments and reactions! It was a wonderful and successful way for me to connect my communities back home and my networks across the world to what was happening in Geneva to celebrate and promote children’s rights!
On the day of the actual event, I had a briefing in the morning with Members of the Committee in the Rights of the Child at Palais Wilson, and in the afternoon we walked to Palais des Nations for the commencement of the event. I was honoured to be asked last minute to read a translated opening speech of Mr. Luis Pedernera, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and enjoyed doing that very much. Then throughout the panel portion of the event, I created social media content to share the discussions with the rest of the world. Finally, I gave the concluding remarks of the event in a 5 minute speech along with Mrs. Amal Aldoseri, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Some extracts from my speech were:
“Children are considered the building blocks of a nation. We may be young in age or lacking experience, but history has shown us—and is currently showing us— that we have the capability to positively change nations. We are the leaders of today and tomorrow. When these strong child voices are joined and supported by adult allies, there is no limit to the magnitude of positive change that- can -and I believe will happen. However realizing a world in which every child reaches their full potential requires concrete action. It requires that ALL act on our obligation to ensure every child’s fundamental human rights and spread this message. Leaps and bounds have been made since the creation of the CRC, and it is important to look back and celebrate this progress, but we must equally acknowledge—as I’m sure you all do— that there is always more work to be done.
Having the opportunity to express how much I value children’s rights and youth voices in the presence of the United Nations was a true privilege and honour. As a young human rights defender, it is a moment that has truly impacted me and has greatly influenced the career path that I would like to pursue. I know my participation in this event at the UN will not be my last, but rather the beginning of a long journey of advocacy.
To all the child and youth voices out there, I say: keep speaking up, your voice and your opinions matters and together we will change our world for the better.
Written by: Amy Spearman.
Past Canadian CORIA Correspondent.