On Friday 16 December, thousands of children across the country sent messages to the Prime Minister on cardboard and paper footprints, to mark the start of a year of action on children's rights - the Right Year for Children.

The messages were hand delivered to Downing Street by 20 children this morning, marking the 20th anniversary of the UK making a legally binding agreement with the United Nations to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

One of the 20 children, 15-year-old Kadeem from Newham, said: "I felt excited to put across the opinions of lots of children. The UNCRC is important and it sets out everything a child is entitled to and makes sure adults don't compromise these rights."

Joshua, 11, from Fleet, added: "It was fun and exciting to be here today. It is important for the Prime Minister to hear what children think as he is the one who can make changes for children."

The Convention gives children everywhere over 40 major rights, including the right to education, family support, an adequate standard of living, to health, to play and recreation, to protection from all forms of violence, and the right to be heard and taken seriously. The Convention requires that all children be respected as human beings with views, feelings and ideas of their own.

The Right Year for Children is run by a coalition of organisations that pushes for greater awareness and respect for children's rights.

"Promoting children's rights is at the very heart of UNICEF's work both here in the UK, and around the world", said Anita Tiessen, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK. "We have seen the powerful difference that a real commitment to children's rights - from the local school to the top of government - can make to transforming children futures."

"At a time when economic pressures globally are putting a squeeze on family incomes, services for children, and job opportunities for young people, it is more important than ever that we protect children's most basic rights to survive and thrive with dignity. We look forward to working with all our partners in the Right Year for Children to ensure children’s rights are promoted and protected throughout the UK."

Only two UN member states have failed to ratify the children's Convention, making it one of the most widely supported human rights treaties in the world. Unlike the UK, many countries have made the Convention on the Rights of the Child part of their domestic law.

 
Young people deliver the Right Year for Children footprints to 10 Downing Street.   © Clare Struthers / Right Year For Children
Young people deliver the Right Year for Children footprints to 10 Downing Street. © Clare Struthers / Right Year For Children

Related stories