The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After three days of discussion and debate during the children’s forum, an event preceding the United Nations special session on children, some 400 young people agreed on a statement to be presented to world leaders...On this historic occasion, for the first time ever, children formally addressed the UN general assembly on behalf of children, giving voice to their vision for a better world...

We are the world’s children. We are the victims of exploitation and abuse. We are street children. We are the children of war. We are the victims and orphans of HIV/AIDS. We are denied good-quality education and health care. We are victims of political, economic, cultural, religious and environmental discrimination. We are children whose voices are not being heard: it is time we are taken into account.

We want a world fit for children, because a world fit for us is a world fit for everyone. In this world, we see respect for the rights of the child...We see an end to exploitation, abuse and violence...We see an end to war: world leaders resolving conflict through peaceful dialogue instead of by using force, child refugees and child victims of war protected in every way and having the same opportunities as all other children, disarmament, elimination of the arms trade and an end to the use of child soldiers.

We see the provision of health care...strong and accountable partnerships established among all to promote better health for children.

We see the eradication of HIV/AIDS...We see the protection of the environment...We see an end to the vicious cycle of poverty: anti-poverty committees that bring about transparency in expenditure and give attention to the needs of all children, cancellation of the debt that impedes progress for children.

We see the provision of education: equal opportunities and access to quality education that is free and compulsory, school environments in which children feel happy about learning, education for life that goes beyond the academic and includes lessons in understanding, human rights, peace, acceptance and active citizenship.

We see the active participation of children: raised awareness and respect among people of all ages about every child’s right to full and meaningful participation, in the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children actively involved in decision-making at all levels and in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating all matters affecting the rights of the child.

We pledge an equal partnership in this fight for children’s rights. And while we promise to support the actions you take on behalf of children, we also ask for your commitment and support in the actions we are taking — because the children of the world are misunderstood.

We are not the sources of problems; we are the resources that are needed to solve them. We are not expenses; we are investments. We are not just young people; we are people and citizens of this world.

Until others accept their responsibility to us, we will fight for our rights. We have the will, the knowledge, the sensitivity and the dedication. We promise that as adults we will defend children’s rights with the same passion that we have now as children. We promise to treat each other with dignity and respect. We promise to be open and sensitive to our differences.

We are the children of the world, and despite our different backgrounds, we share a common reality. We are united by our struggle to make the world a better place for all. You call us the future, but we are also the present.

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