“We need to defend children’s rights so that children can look back and remember a happy childhood with happy memories.” MCP, Perth & Kinross
Through our rights-based, creative practice, Children’s Parliament provides children from diverse backgrounds across Scotland with opportunities to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Children’s Parliament works to ensure children’s voices influence positive change in their own and other children’s lives at home, in school and in the community. Through this, our work both empowers and protects children across Scotland to be human rights defenders.
“A child human rights defender is a child who is willing to stand up for their own and children’s rights. What we’ve got to be as human rights defenders is brave and confident.” Cameron, MCP age 12
“As a Human Rights Defender, I stand up for all children’s rights especially younger children who might not know about their rights yet.” Megan, MCP age 13
This year has been a timely opportunity to open the discussion on children as human rights defenders, 2018 is both the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To celebrate this occasion, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child chose ‘Children as Human Rights Defenders’ as the theme for its Day of General Discussion (DGD), which took place in September 2018.
In March 2018, Children’s Parliament initiated our Children as Human Rights Defenders programme, explore children’s views on what rights they feel need to be defended in Scotland and what support is required from adults to ensure children can be both empowered and protected in their role as human rights defenders. The project’s programme, designed with and for children, is run in partnership with the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), East Lothian Council, Fa’side Area Partnership and Recharge Youth Centre in Tranent, East Lothian.
Here are some of the key messages that have emerged through the project so far:
Knowing you have human rights is the first step to being a human rights defender. After all, how can anyone stand up for their own or someone else’s human rights, if they don’t know they have them?
“As Human Rights Defenders, we help other children to know about their rights and learning about what rights they think need to be defended in Scotland. We want everyone to be Human Rights Defenders!” Emily, MCP age 13
“I’ve been surprised by how many children don’t know that they have rights or aren’t aware of them.” Anna, MCP age 13
Defending human rights can be difficult. Adults don’t always appreciate a child speaking up for themselves and children can sometimes be afraid to speak up if they feel they aren’t allowed to. Members of Children’s Parliament demonstrate over and again how keen and able they are to work with adults to achieve a culture that loves and values all children equally.
“As a children’s human rights defender, our role is to help children speak for themselves. Don’t be afraid to speak up and defend what’s important to you. We need to look after rights and make sure that they are always there for every child, every human.” Hannah, MCP age 12
Anyone can be a human rights defender.
“At the DGD, I was asked, what does a Human Rights Defender look like? Human Rights Defenders are just people – anyone can be a human rights defender! It doesn’t matter what you look like, what age you are or who you are.” Alexander, MCP aged 12
So what’s next? We encourage YOU to join us in empowering and protecting children human rights defenders by becoming an Unfeartie.