“Each time I see a child working, I feel their pain. Because I was that child. And today I struggle for their rights”
Shubham Rathore, former child labourer
Opening ceremony of the Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit 2018
Under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II, and co-hosted by HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, the second Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit 2018 took place in Jordan on March 26, 2018 at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre in the Dead Sea. Inspired and founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, Laureates and Leaders for Children is a global platform bringing together Nobel Laureates, global leaders, and young people to inspire, collaborate and act to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.
Summit co-host, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, in his opening speech, commented: “Today, conflict, violence, climate change and poverty are forcing millions of children on the move… Millions are losing their homes and families, being trafficked and enslaved, missing out on formal education, and being subjected to routine physical and emotional abuse. This summit is a sincere and concerted effort to bring people together to openly discuss these challenges and formulate long-term and realistic strategies to address them.”
“If technology, knowledge and wealth can flow freely across borders without seeking refuge, why can’t our children? I dream of a world where every border, treasury and heart is open for every child,” stated Kailash Satyarthi in his address to the summit.
No voice was clearer or stronger during the summit than that of the 200-strong youth delegation. Hailing from countries including India, Peru, Brazil, Pakistan, Kenya, Uganda, Palestine, Indonesia, Syria, Jordan, as well as a group of young people from Zaatari refugee camp, leaving the camp for the first time since their arrival, these passionate and committed young activists left an indelible mark on all those who participated.
Mohammed Al Junde, the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize winner, and Khiabet Salazar, the National Youth Coordinator of the 100 Million Campaign in Peru, gave impassioned keynote speeches alongside that of Subham Rathore, the former child labourer rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, and who is now a qualified engineer. Members of the youth delegation seized the opportunity to make their commitments and demands heard by speaking to influential delegates and to the international media.
The 100 Million campaign delivered two sessions dedicated to supporting and nurturing youth activists, and encouraged them all to take the next step towards effecting change in their communities.
Closing the event, the youth delegation presented their commitments to the world’s most vulnerable children and challenged all in the room to make their own pledges to act beyond the summit.
“Words without actions are meaningless. What you see here are our demands, and our pledges, along with actions we will take to make the pledges reality.”
Angel Mbuthia, All Africa Students’ Union
Ranging from ending child labour in a local community in Uganda, to provision of education in Jordanian refugee camps, to protection of the rights of gypsy children in Pakistan, to the provision civic education in the United States, the youth delegation led the way and sought the support of the Laurates and Leaders in the room.
“The key to revolution belongs to those who take the first step. We need your motivation to help our revolution start. We don’t want people in camps any more. We don’t want people out of school any more. We have machines that can talk but still people cannot eat. What are you going to do to help us?”
Mustafa Anas, Youth Campaigner, Syria
The official summit outcome document calls for clear and actionable commitments from the international community and the United Nations, including the strengthening of efforts to secure peace and reduce global military expenditures by 10% annually in order to allocate more funding towards sustainable development and services geared towards children.
Since the Summit, many members of the youth delegation have been committed to supporting each other through solidarity actions, and regularly share their news, work, and good practice. The 100 Million campaign continues to support the network and is working with the youth delegation to help them establish the campaign in their countries.
Laureates and Leaders for Children is convened by His Excellency Jose Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate and Former President of Timor Leste and led by a steering committee including HRH Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan; Her Excellency the First Lady of Panama, Mrs. Lorena Castillo de Varela; Nobel Peace Laureate, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi; Human Rights Activist and President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Ms. Kerry Kennedy; and renowned economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General on the Sustainable Development Goals.