September 12 2008

Creating change

Young people speak on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

11/09/2008 - SOS-Kinderdorf International co-sponsored a midday workshop at the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference*, held from 3rd to 5th September in Paris, to hear from young people with care experience and to engage in a discussion on ways to include young people in creating change.

Photo: Katerina Ilievska
Every voice is important to create changes and chances - Photo: K. Ilievska
To mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, over 1,200 representatives of NGOs and civil society, governments and the United Nations participated in the 61st Annual DPI/NGO Conference, “Reaffirming Human Rights for All: The Universal Declaration at 60”, which took place from the 3rd to the 5th of September, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Participants heard from eminent human rights activists, and shared their experiences on the ground and best practices in different areas of human rights protection. The discussions covered a diverse number of topics, ranging from extreme poverty, to the rights of people with special needs and of minorities to children’s rights.

At the closing ceremony, Colombian-French politician and former political prisoner, Ingrid Betancourt, highlighted via video conference the importance of NGOs in defending human rights stating: “Your voice is so important, I am here today because of your actions.”

Stéphane Hessel, a French diplomat who helped draft the Universal Declaration, said that the event was of “capital significance” because it shed light on the role that NGOs are playing in the defence of human rights.

SOS-Kinderdorf International was a part of both the “DPI/NGO Planning Committee”, which was responsible for planning of content and logistics of the conference, as well as the “Midday Workshop Sub-Committee”. In that capacity, SOS-Kinderdorf International was instrumental in selecting the over 40 workshops that were presented during the three days.

Photo: SOS Archives
At the workshop "Young people as agents of change" - Photo: SOS Archives

During the conference, SOS-Kinderdorf International co-sponsored a midday workshop entitled “Young People as Agents of Change”, with the objective of hearing directly from young people with care experience how they overcome the discrimination, marginalisation and social exclusion they are facing. Along with Maria Herczog, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, three young adults spoke at the workshop, focussing on concrete ways to include young people in creating change.

In an interesting presentation, Miko Serko Carels, a former foster child and member of the board of IFCO (International Foster Care Organisation), held up a bottle of water and challenged the audience to think of it as a symbol of foster care, asking “If you want to know whether this water tastes good or not, who do you ask? The producer or the consumer?” If the consumers, in this case children in care, it would seem logical to ask them how satisfied they are with the care system.

Kersti Kukk, a student in political sciences and a member of Power4Youth, a virtual youth network of young people with care experience, spoke about the Quality4Children Standards, noting that the input given by herself and her peers to these standards will be “invaluable to future generations” of children in care.

*DPI - UN Department of Public Information

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