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The Bumpy Road to Special Session Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ha Thi Lan Anh, Canada May 15, 2002
Human Rights   Opinions


Cheerful and confident, hundreds of children are here at the UN from around the world attending the children's forum . But one must ask themselves how were they selected?

Many child delegates have overcome a rough time trying to gain a seat in the Children's forum. It was not an easy road for some of them. Government budgest and local businesses are not always willing to invest money on an expenditure of this magnitudes either because of lack of money or lack of interests.

For many getting here was a stressful experience full of politics and red tape,where honest, hardcore, volunteer and child rights activists could not get the funding and support for something so necessary to come and speak about, something that effects them and the people they work with. Yet here they are today more than 400 young people all within the UN plaza working on child rights.

Samuel Kissi 16 from Ghana, after spending over four months walking from office to office asking for funding to attend UNGASS, finally gave up. However, since it was postponed, Samuel was able to continue his quest to get the additional funding needed. With great effort and a little luck, Samuel is at the UN today.

Nguyen Manh Dung, a 15 year old Vietnamese said "I can't imagine I could be here at UNGASS because I live in a poor village in Vietnam. It was a long shot to be able to be here. I was elected by children at preparatorial conferences in my village, my country, then Asia".

Also many children at the conferece think that child delegates should be chosen through democratic elections by the children of their own countries since they will represent the views of all other children. However, Emily from Australia thinks NGOs and government should nominate the children themselves because if children elect their representives they will select the " popular ones" not those who understand about the issues to be discussed.

Other delegates however were selected not on their knowledge of UNGASS but due to their relations with government or NGO officers , while some have no idea why they were selected. However, for these children being in the Big Apple is an all expence paid vacation.



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Ha Thi Lan Anh

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