Right to Freedom around the World

Right to Freedom in the World

Situation of the right to freedom for children around the world

International norms recognize that children have the right to freedom of opinion, of expression, and of association. If these rights are recognized for all children around the world, without exception, then most of them do not have the chance to benefit, and certainly do not even realize that they are benefiting from these freedoms.

The unwillingness of adults to have the participation of children

The International Convention on Children’s Rights created a new concept of what it means to be a child. Children are no longer simply beneficiaries of rights, but are equally holders of rights they are able to promote and defend by their own action.

The young are more engaged

Beyond their simple personal preoccupations, children of today worry also about difficulties that other children may encounter.

The discrimination towards poor or handicapped children, the risks tied to drugs, to non-protected sexual relations, to abuse, and the deterioration of their environment, etc. are several of the current subjects that interest them more and more.

Today these children wish to have a part in making the decisions and in the debates on issues that concern them.

The word of children is not always welcomed

In many countries, freedom of expression, and of opinion are rights reserved for adults. The opinion of children is judged useless, since they lack sufficient understanding and maturity to shape a just opinion and do not have the right to express it.

Also, in many countries, children that try to express their opinion, or try to speak in an adult conversation, could be looked down upon. In these situations, children do not have the possibility of freely expressing their opinion without fear of receiving punishment for what adults see as their “disrespectful” intervention.

Children are more and more present in decisions that concern them

Efforts are still insufficient

If today the opinion of children finally gained importance in decisions that concern them, their participation as representatives of an entire generation has not been established. Children are more present in conferences, but their absence persists at the moment when decisions are made.

Today, only a few countries around the world can celebrate in having integrated children in the governance of their municipality. The city of Barra Mansa, Brazil, can serve as an example, as it is the first city to have integrated, as of 1998, 36 young people in their municipal council.

The United Nations shows an example

In 2002, an extraordinary session of the General Assembly devoted to children was organized. This session was the occasion to encourage, on the one hand, the participation of children for increasing their well-being and, on the other, the engagement of countries in granting more importance to the voice of children.

In 2006, the initiative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, a study of violence on children was organized with the participation of young people worldwide so as to understand their point of view and their propositions.

In 2008, children were invited to participate in the Third World Congress against the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents. At this congress the children could meet the Chiefs of State and the experts together with representatives of NGO’s to consult and adopt the measures for fighting against sexual exploitation of children worldwide.

These changes have allowed us to see the efficacy and the success of the decisions concerning the children that have passed because of their participation. Countries can see that children know best when it comes to what measures work well to promote their well-being.

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