A view of “Enlightened Universe” by artist Cristóbal Gabarrón at the Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, New York City, celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak.
The presentation, titled “A Stronger Voice for Children’s Rights,” was part of a seminar convened in the context of a global partnership between the Geneva-based World Council of Churches and UNICEF. The U.N. has declared Nov. 20 as Universal Children’s Day.
Vargas explained that WACC’s work draws on the framework of communication rights, believing that everyone has the right to communicate and to be communicated to, in the same way that they have the right to food, shelter, and security. “In strategic alliances, we aim to be a catalyst for change for the common good, sharing information, knowledge, and experience in the field of communication,” he said.
Welcoming the alliance between WCC and UNICEF, he said that one of the seminar’s themes, supporting child-friendly churches, “is key to the attainment of children’s rights.”
The WCC-UNICEF partnership “is an opportunity to reflect about the ways different communities have depicted children and engaged with them over the years. The partnership also creates an opportunity to discuss the role of churches and faith-based organizations beyond the confines of the church, about the ways in which churches can create and strengthen communities, and about the kinds of communities we are creating through our work,” Vargas said.
From WACC’s perspective, he noted, there is a strong connection between communication rights and children’s rights, though this connection is rarely acknowledged. “In essence, children’s rights cannot be fully attained without taking into account the communication dimension of such rights,” Vargas said.
Children’s communication rights are often forgotten when governments and the communication industry argue for greater technological diffusion. WACC believes rights should always be a priority and that clear guidelines for children should form an integral part in discussions around access and technology.