Stop the Press! East Lothian’s Children’s Human Rights Defenders

(Press Release 15.6.2018)

East Lothian’s Children’s Human Rights Defenders

12 children from East Lothian prepare to play a significant part in United Nations conference about children’s human rights in Geneva this September

On Saturday (16.06.2018), 12 children gathered in Tranent to start designing a giant art installation which illustrates the views of 200 children on human rights in Scotland.

In September they will travel to Geneva for the United Nations’ Day of General Discussion (DGD). This opportunity is part of the children’s ongoing involvement in a national programme, Children as Human Rights Defenders, led by Children’s Parliament and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland and in partnership with East Lothian Council, Fa’side Area Partnership and Recharge Youth Centre.

The Children as Human Rights Defenders project has developed from StreetsAhead, an urban planning project delivered in Tranent in 2016 in a partnership between Children’s Parliament, Recharge Youth Project and Fa’side Area Partnership which saw 16 children create a large mural installation reflecting the views, ideas and priorities of 250 children from the local area about the future of Tranent. Following its exhibition at the United Nations in Geneva in 2016, the mural has now been permanently installed outside Ross High School.

Now, six Members of Children’s Parliament (MCPs) from the StreetsAhead project have developed and co-delivered creative workshops in Benbecula, Inverness, Blairgowrie, Edinburgh and Tranent to gather children’s views on what human rights children feel need to be defended in Scotland.  200 children shared their views and learned more about children’s human rights and how children can be human rights defenders.

A further six children from the Fa’side Youth Reference group, a legacy of the StreetsAhead project supported by Recharge Youth Centre and Fa’side Area Partnership to give young people an active voice in their community, now join the six MCPs for the next phase of the project. All 12 children will travel to Geneva in September to take part in the DGD. Hearing about this exciting opportunity for the first time last week, Shea, aged 13, said:

“I think going to the Day of General Discussion in Geneva will be a good experience! I hope to know more about how different countries around the world are raising awareness about children’s rights.”

Over the summer, the 12 MCPs will use the words, drawings and poems gathered from the children who took part in the workshops to highlight five key themes on giant papier-mâché shields.  These shields will help them communicate Scotland’s children’s views, when they meet with the international participants gathered in Geneva.

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner said: “Human Rights Defender’ is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. All across Scotland at local and national levels, children act as ‘Human Rights Defenders’.  Children don’t have the same political or economic power as adults and are often excluded from decision-making. Yet despite this, they show great courage and determination to stand up to those in power. It is my role to ensure that children are supported and protected when they do make a stand as decision-makers have a legal duty to protect them. This year in particular as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, Scotland should proudly recognise, celebrate and protect our courageous children and young people.”

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