I am particularly pleased to address the Closing Ceremony of such an innovative initiative as the Youth Voice Conference, organized by young people.
I would like to congratulate these young people on their brilliant idea to organize the event and for its successful implementation. Initiatives like this are excellent examples on how young people in general and in particular, children and adolescents, can get actively involved in their community life, exercising their right to participation in decision making.
The cluster of participation rights, which enshrine the right of children to be given the opportunity to form their views and to be allowed to express those views freely on all matters affecting them and, at the same time, their views to be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity, constitute one of the cornerstones of the new concept of children and childhood, as established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
According to this new conception of childhood, children should not be perceived as, “not yets”, as “human beings in the making”, but as “beings” “entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” CRC, Preamble . The conception of children as subjects of rights, grants them a more equal role in their relationship with adults. Children are not, any more, considered to be, merely passive recipients of adult’s experience, simple consumers of adult’s opinions and ideas, but active social agents, purposefully engaged in their surroundings from an early age. Participation is a human right for all children – and as such, it is not a gift or privilege bestowed by adults on children, but the right of every child capable of expressing a view.
Participation rights have a meaning, only when applied. For this reason, congratulations are also due to all of you who took part in this Conference. It takes a special kind of person to take time off from your different activities and heavy schedules during the weekend, to gather here to discuss and debate over such controversial issues as are the environment, human rights and moral issues.
From the human rights perspective, all these issues are of equal importance and closely interrelated. The UN international instruments provide us with a legally binding framework for all these issues. More particularly, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the only international human rights treaty which includes civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. It sets out in detail what every child needs to have for a safe, happy and fulfilled childhood, and envisions a world in which children have the right to survive and grow safely in a healthy physical environment.
Human rights treaties form the backbone of international law and function as a guideline for the development of relevant national legislation, which is fundamental in promoting human rights. However, it is important to note that the existence of a comprehensive legal / institutional framework at the international and national level is not sufficient to ensure in practice the full implementation of human rights, including children’s rights. The creation of a culture of human rights is a precondition for this. A culture, which will allow a social change that will pave the way for every individual and the society as a whole, to make human rights a part of their everyday live. It is my deep belief that initiatives like the Youth Voice Conference which provide a forum for an open discussion and debate on respect for human rights related issues, have much to contribute to the promotion of a culture of human rights.
In concluding, I would like to congratulate, once more, you all for taking part in the Conference and, particularly the organizing committee on setting up such an event. I would be grateful if I could have the conclusions of the Conference, as I am sure they will be a valuable source for my work as a Commissioner for Children Rights.
ENGLIGH SCHOOL MARCH 2011.doc
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