Opening Speech of the activities commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Wow… I can see many, many people here!, Time goes by quickly… thirty years… that’s incredible!


During all this time we have lived many things, and someone told me that I have helped a lot. But I sometimes feel bad, because of the countries which have ratified me, and then forgot me. Anyway, I’m happy because all of you are here.


A few days ago, I was talking with a group of children and adolescents from different countries and they told me about many problems they are facing. As it is written in my body, these problems shouldn’t exist anymore, but unfortunately, they are still alive.


They also told me that the reduced group of children and adolescents who have the possibility of being here are very tired. Do you know why? Because they feel used. They think that events like this one are done only to fulfil a request from society, just for a photograph, then everybody come back home, and life goes on.


But I could perceive that children and adolescents are organizing because they want to say STOP, to say NO MORE. They also want to say they must be heard and taken into account, because they are the future, but also the present, the now.


In that country, I can`t remember the name, but it is where Donald Trump is the president, they still ignore my existence, because they haven’t ratified me yet. Imagine… if I don’t exist for the government of this country, much less the rights for its inhabitants. Am I so ugly that they don’t want me?


Anyway, I can’t understand why they created and signed me thirty years ago, and are ignoring me now. Have you seen what happens in the world? Problems in the boundaries between USA and Mexico. School drop out in Central and South America. Constant poverty and low life expectancy in Haiti. Dictatorship in Nicaragua and Venezuela. Mass emigration in Central America. Social outbreaks in Chile and Ecuador. The large number of poor people in Argentina. Burning and deforestation in the Amazon. Violent police attacks in Brazilian favelas. Drug trafficking. Water contamination. Female genital mutilation in many locations of Africa. The endless war in the Gaza Strip. Armed conflicts in territories disputed by major powers. Children and adolescent recruitment in arm conflict. Migrants who die in country boundaries due to the refusal of governments. Health crisis in India. Environmental pollution in China. Child labour and sexual exploitation in Central America. Difficult access to health services. Educational systems that are archaic or with difficult access. Censorship and women prohibition to freedom of expression in Iran. Lack of access to information in North Korea and Russia. Death sentence to LGTB people in countries like Saudi Arabia or Nigeria and many other problems which are taking away the present and future of young people.


It’s difficult to believe all the things that are happening, because I am thirty years old. We have been meeting for thirty years, and every time we meet, we propose ourselves to end with all these disadvantages. But year after year, every time we meet, we repeat the same desires of the previous year. Time goes on but children and adolescents suffer the same problems generation after generation. I have heard about the right to participation and expression of children and adolescents since the day I was created, but I haven’t seen any country placing a chair at the decision table so as a child or adolescent can participate with both, voice and vote in public policies issues.


Last year I heard a child telling “If the world looked at the problems through the eyes of a child, half of them would be solved and the other half would not exist” Can you realize the deep and important message in these words? What are we waiting for not inviting them just for a photograph? What are we waiting to take them into account and giving them decision making power?


I am celebrating my birthday now, my first thirty years old, and as you know, people ask for three whishes in birthday’s celebrations. Would you like to know my whishes? First, I would like that none of you forget the things we have talked today when you left this meeting and that you do not allow a single violation to my content, my principles, my articles. Second, I would like that international organizations work together with children because that is a good way to have a direct source of information and rising the impact over the social policies of countries. And third, I would like that meetings like this one of today, no longer exist, because the day that we won´t have the necessity of meeting, would be the day in which problems will be over.


Thank you for listening to me!


Autor/ Writer:  Kurt Ottosen.

Child Correspondent – Child Advisor.