Our chance to lobby the US Embassy: campaigning for the rights of the child
Our journey of campaigning for the US to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child began when our youth group leader explained to us what the convention was, and how it protects children’s rights.
We had never heard of the convention and had always thought it was a given that the government would protect us under laws like these. We were extremely shocked that America, being one of the most powerful countries in the world, had only signed the convention and not ratified it, leading to the children in the USA not having the security of being protected under a UN-approved convention.
We decided that this problem was important enough to campaign about, leading to us using our annual Secret Policeman’s Ball as a platform to raise awareness, and we received a very supportive response from audience members from our school (The Lady Eleanor Holles School) and Hampton School.
We used the opportunity to do a photo petition, where the audience held up posters featuring different articles from the Convention of the Rights of the Child. This allowed us to show our unified support of the campaign, raise money for Amnesty International and raise awareness within our school community.
We thought our campaigning had ended there, so it was incredible to hear from Amnesty International that they wanted us to go to the U.S. Embassy as youth representatives to hand over all the collected petitions from across the UK.
This was a fantastic opportunity for us to emphasise that ratification of the convention is of paramount importance. We were honoured to be representing the Amnesty’s youth group members and have the ability to express the extent of our passion for the ratification of the children’s human rights.
Once we had reached the embassy we were kindly greeted by the embassy official that we were meeting with. First of all, we handed over the petitions, which included over 4,000 signatures, making sure to emphasise that over half the petitions were signed by youth campaigners and we showed him the ‘Story of the Ratification’, which was made by Henley College Amnesty International Group.
We went on to explain our shock that the USA was only one of two countries, the other being South Sudan, to have not ratified the convention and what we had done at our school to raise awareness for this. In addition, we explained the importance of ratification from a youth’s perspective and how we had always thought it was a given that we, as children, would be protected by such conventions. He was very accommodating to our views and emphasised that American children are protected by other laws. He also assured us that all of our petitions will be sent to Washington.
The meeting was fantastic for us, as we were given the opportunity to see that campaigning really does make a difference and that our voices have the power to change the injustices in the world. It was an amazing experience to be able to discuss our views with a representative of the U.S. embassy, as well as allowing us highlight the invaluable work that Amnesty has done in this campaign for children’s rights.
Lucy and Shalini are members of the Amnesty youth group at The Lady Eleanor Holles School
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.