First girl to brief UN Security Council in person calls for children to have a voice in peace processes
NEW YORK, 5 July 2023 – A girl will address the UN Security Council (UNSC) in New York in person today for the first time in its nearly 70-year history, using her experience of growing up in one of the world's most violent places to push for children being involved in the country's current and future peace processes.
Violeta*, 17, from Colombia, has been working with Save the Children to ensure children are involved in the peace process in her country and her participation in the UNSC is an important milestone for children affected by conflict and for children's meaningful participation in top-level decision-making that impacts their lives.
She will speak at the Children and Armed Conflict Annual Open Debate, where she will present ideas on how the UN and its member states can promote systematic, meaningful and ethical participation of children in peace processes.
In addition, she will ask the international community to support current and future efforts regarding peace dialogues, to stop and prevent forced recruitment, and to seek for the implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration in Colombia.
Violeta's knowledge of how the Colombian conflict has impacted children, and the importance of child protection in times of war, makes her the ideal spokesperson for the ideas, requests and recommendations of child survivors of the Colombian armed conflict.
Violeta was an active member of a group which succeeded in convincing the Colombian government to sign the Safe Schools Declaration, an intergovernmental agreement that contains a set of commitments to guarantee the full right to education, prevent any type of attack on schools, and restrict the use of these spaces for military purposes.
In her address, Violeta said:
"A country that does not allow its children, adolescents and youth to participate in and build towards peace is a country that condemns itself to repeat a future in war.
"I come representing the children and adolescents of Colombia. I am a 17-year-old girl, which is something that does not usually happen because in most participation spaces the representation is male and adult."
Wang Le, UN Representative and Director of Save the Children's New York Global Advocacy Office, said:
"We are so excited and proud to be supporting Violeta in this historic occasion. Having a girl sit in the chamber of one of the world's top decision making bodies for the first time is a huge step forwards for girls, children and our broader global community.
"In recent years, the international community has increasingly focused on making peace processes more inclusive and participatory, with efforts to engage traditionally marginalized or excluded groups such as women and youth.
"However, despite this general trend towards more inclusivity, peace processes have systematically failed to include children, despite the fact that children are often disproportionately impacted by armed conflict and have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives and we know there are ways we can involve children safe and meaningfully."
Save the Children research has shown that 468 million children - or more than 1 in 6 children worldwide - live in areas affected by armed conflict.
*Name changed to protect identity
NOTES TO EDITOR:
The UN's access through the has been operating on a 6-month renewal cycle since 2021. The humanitarian community insist that increasing the timeframe back to its previous 12 month lifespan is critical in order to limit a further deterioration of situation for children and their families across the country following the deadly earthquakes early this year.
For further enquiries please contact:
Joseph Anthony email@example.com (in New York)
Daphnee Cook Daphnee.firstname.lastname@example.org / +254 717 524 904 (in Nairobi)
Our media out of hours (BST) contact is email@example.com / +44(0)7831 650409