Proposed Guidelines to Governments and NGOs on the Participation and Selection

Summary: The following proposed guidelines are meant to help governments and NGO and their delegation decide on including children on your delegation to the Third Prep Com of the Special Session on Children and to provide you with suggestions on the selection of young delegates.

Proposed Guidelines to Governments and NGOs on the Participation and Selection of Under-18 Delegates to the Third Substantive Preparatory Meeting of the UN Special Session on Children - New York, 11-15 June 2001 The following proposed guidelines are meant to help you and your delegation decide on including children on your delegation to the Third Prep Com of the Special Session on Children and to provide you with suggestions on the selection of young delegates. WHY Include Children on your Delegation? Children are the group under consideration at the Special Session on Children and as such their participation in the preparatory process, as well as in the Special Session itself, is essential; We, as adults should not just talk about children without listening to them. Children's participation in all discussions and decisions on issues that concern them, as well freedom of expression, are specifically addressed in Articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): 'State Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child…' (Art. 12) In addition, there are a number of practical reasons for the participation of children: - Children know their situation best, what needs to be changed and often have good ideas on how to change it; - Including children in the planning and decision-making process will enhance the development of appropriate and relevant initiatives to improve their lives; - Including children on your delegation will demonstrate, in a very concrete and practical way, that your government/organisation takes children seriously and that the views of children count. WHO should be the Under 18 Representatives? Key considerations in the selection of young delegates may include: - Children who are already actively involved in regional or national initiatives leading to the Special Session (to bring outcomes of these consultations to the international level); - Children with a specific, shown, interest, direct experience or expertise in issues that pertain to the outcome of the Special Session, e.g. childhood disability, education, HIV/AIDS, armed conflict, environment, etc.; - Children who will be able to speak on behalf of a broad cross- section of your country's children; - Children with a solid understanding and experience of issues related to children and young people in your country; - Children who are part of existing peer groups and who can feed back their experiences, and propose ways of action to other children when they return after the Prep Com; - It would be desirable for children to have a working knowledge of one of the UN languages, or to be accompanied by a delegate who volunteers to interpret for them. Number and Age of Participants: In order for children to prepare for the meeting and to share experiences once they return home, it is recommended that you include at least one young participant. The CRC applies to children up to the age of 18, therefore, it is recommended that you select children up to the age of 18. All children are capable of expressing a view and there is no minimum age limit imposed on the right to participate. When including children on your delegation, you are encouraged to ensure a balance in the following areas: - Gender - Age of participants (i.e. 10-14 group/15-18 group) - Religion - Rural versus urban place of residence - In- and out of school - Socio-economic backgrounds HOW to Select Children for Participation? One suggestion with many options is to select children through a competition. Ask children to: - Write about their life in a creative way, perhaps a poem, journal entry or letter; - Write a story or essay about their experiences with children's rights in their community, in their country or in their region; - Write a news story to submit to newspapers at home, interviewing your delegation and other delegations; - Create artwork that expresses their vision of child rights. To promote a competition, you will need to send out notices across the country to children's organisations, schools, and national and regional events where children are participating. You may also wish to advertise in local newspapers or through public announcements on radio or television. At the same time this will raise awareness within your country of your government's and civil society's preparation and involvement in the Special Session. Ensure that the language you use is child-friendly. Though a competition may be time consuming, it will allow you to make a choice from a wide range of interested participants. It is strongly advised that you include children themselves in the selection process. By selecting their peers, they will become part of the process and it will be easier to identify with the work to be undertaken. Preparing Children for Participation in the Third PrepCom: In order for children to make meaningful contributions to the meetings in New York, they should be properly prepared and guided by adults. They would need to meet with other members of your delegation and be part of your planning meetings. It is advised that you brief them on your country's policies and programmes for children, on the objectives of the Preparatory Meetings and the Special Session, as well as introduce them to the United Nations and their procedures. Information to help you with this can be found at the following web sites: or (the web site of the Child Rights Information Network) Child-friendly versions of key documents pertaining to the Special Session will soon be available on these web sites. A briefing workshop for NGO and government delegates under the age of 18 will be held immediately prior to the Third PrepCom meeting. Details of this workshop will be made available closer to the time on the same web sites, and through national and regional offices of UNICEF and partner NGOs. The Importance of Adult Supervision of Under 18 Participants: The safety and well being of children participating in the Third PrepCom are the responsibility of the accompanying adult representative of your delegation. This means that you need to assign one member of your team as the 'chaperone' of the young delegate, whose name should be indicated on the application form. Proposed guidelines on the role and responsibilities of chaperones will also be made available on the same web sites mentioned above.



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