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A Children's Proposal to Decision Makers
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development

Young people from 52 countries wrote this Proposal during the Young General Assembly Special Session Online July 8- August 3, 2002. First they examined the world's problems from a youth's point of view and established priority issues. Then they deeply examined the root causes of these issues and determined ways in which child participation could bring hope and productivity to the achievement of the goals of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

We children speak to you in the name of love, unity, and harmony. We want to see the goals of the World Summit on Sustainable Development succeed and we are offering you our support.

We have prepared by examining the issues involved in sustainable development. We see the most important of those issues as being the environment (especially clean drinking water), health (especially HIV/AIDS), child/human rights, education, poverty, war and conflict, abuse of political power, and lack of information technology. We examined thoroughly the causes for each of these issues and concluded the root causes are the desire for money (greed) and power, hatred and pride/revenge, education is not valued or funded enough, wealth is valued more than the environment and natural resources, there is widespread depression about the present and lack of hope about the future, too little value is placed on human life and labor, communication is not clear, there is a great lack of inner peace, and a widespread disallowance of child and youth participation.

In the 1990 World Summit for Children Declaration, world leaders issued an invitation in clause 22, "Among the partnerships we seek, we turn to children themselves." In response, a ten year global movement of children created an international organization of over one million young people run by children which is now ready and willing to act in partnership with you so sustainable development will become a natural way of life on a healthy planet populated by people who are peacefully developing their own potential. The organization is called Peaceways-Young General Assembly.

You have tried many solutions to build a brighter future. However, there is one thing you have not tried: that is child participation. In the past, child participation has been children obeying the commands of adults. This approach has not produced a sustainable, peaceful world. We are asking you to consider a new approach: working WITH children in mutually respectful partnerships, as you invited us to do 12 years ago. We believe you have not backed your invitation with action because you have been too busy to examine what effective child participation is.

Child participation is the respectful involvement of children in decision making, nation building, and issues concerning all living creatures on Earth. A child can begin participating as soon as the child realizes that there is a world outside of his/her immediate surroundings. Child participation programs can focus on people ages 12-18 who, in turn, will help younger children become involved.

Effective child participation must include the whole of society. To participate successfully, children need to take the responsibility to inform themselves, have the courage to speak up when they see a need, make decisions based on their own sense of fairness, and be patient with adults. Youth can enhance child participation by listening carefully to children, counseling and encouraging them to become informed before making decisions, and actively bridging the gap between adults and children. Adults share a large responsibility in effective child participation. They must look beyond the age and the size of the child and really hear what the child is saying. Most importantly, they need to learn to trust children. Adults can encourage children’s enthusiasm, confidence, creativity, and their thirst for knowledge. Adults need to create opportunities for children to participate in meaningful ways in the family, the community, in school, and in out of school activities in the areas of planning, policy making, discipline, the raising and handling of money, and in all areas that will build a sustainable world. The media must balance the violent image they overwhelmingly portray of teenagers by giving at least equal attention to the positive things children do.

All governmental institutions must open up places in which children can participate in governance other than by voting because children are approximately one third of the world’s population. There must be a staffed and funded office in every government at every level through which children can communicate with their government and it can communicate with them. Every government at every level, including the United Nations, needs to have a democratic children’s body that meets no less than 6 times a year to advise them on children’s issues. The General Assembly resolution supporting the inclusion of youth in United Nations delegations must be expanded to include people under 18 and be upheld by every member state at every General Assembly session. Member states should listen to, weigh, and honestly consider acting on the views of these young delegates. We request that this paragraph be employed by governments as an addendum to Chapter 25 of Agenda 21, and an addendum to the Plan of Implementation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and that it become incorporated in all national plans of action for A World Fit for Children.

You leaders keep saying in your speeches, "Children are the future." and you tell us that you are working for a better future. If you truly want a better, sustainable future, then you must have better children. The best way to have better children is by establishing the means through which children can effectively participate WITH you to build a sustainable and peaceful world.

Let us work WITH you now !

Click here to learn more about the Young General Assembly

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