The Children’s Peace Movement is the realisation of an international project carried out exclusively by children and made possible by UNICEF. This practice, unique in its kind, has mobilised more than three million Colombian children.
Graca Macher, instigator of the movement
The story begins in 1996, thanks to the visit of Graca Machel, an expert of the Secretary General of the UN in charge of a report aimed at evaluating the impact of armed conflicts on children, to Colombia. In her visit, she went to Apartado, a town ravaged by war and in the grip of armed guerrilla conflicts.
Looking to gather children’s testimonies on this situation, she received thousands of drawings, letters and poems demanding peace and the respect of children’s rights. Reunited in a “local government of children”, these young activists make up the Children’s Movement for Peace and organise cultural and fun activities to promote peace.
The rights to life and to peace
Their biggest success comes in the organisation of a special referendum on the mandate of children for peace and rights, with the support of UNICEF, REDEPAZ (National Network of Peace Initiatives) and the Colombian government.
Against all expectation, three million children went to the ballot boxes in order to vote – a third of the total population aged between 7 and 18. The result of the vote consecrates the rights to life and to peace as the first rights that have to be re-established and protected.
An international echo
Resulting from a large consultation with children from 7 to 16 years old, the Declaration of the Summit of Children for Peace and Rights examines the way in which young people are able to participate in a world peace process.
During a speech to the UN assembly, the instigator of the movement, Farliz Calle, invited all of the member countries of the UN to consider children not only as victims of war but also as architects of peace. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, the Children’s Movement for Peace has mobilised more than 13 million people, adults and children together.