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Parliament of Children and Adolescents

Fecha: (6/9/2016 11:22:43 AM)

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Montevideo, Uruguay. One normally thinks of civic participation as no more than voting. However, when we speak of participation we also refer to the initiatives that foster local, regional and national development by integrating the community into the exercise of politics, in the broadest sense of the term. Involving very young children and adolescents in civic participation was the principal objective of the Montevideo Parliament of Children and Adolescents, which was held May 5 in the Ernesto de los Campos Hall of the Office of the Mayor of Montevideo.

The following were present and spoke at the inauguration of this event: the Mayor of Montevideo, Daniel Martínez; the Director of Social Development, Fabiana Goyeneche; the Representative of the Regional Office of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR), Soledad García Muñoz; the Director of the Central Executive Council, Wilson Netto; the President of the Children’s and Adolescents’ Institute of Uruguay (INAU), Marisa Lindner,  and the President of the Uruguayan House of Representatives, Gerardo Amarilla. Also participating were Rosa Quintana, Secretary of Education; Fernando Nopitsch, General Secretary of the Office of the Mayor; Fernando Rodríguez, Vice President of INAU and Abel Sade, Director General of SUAT. Also attending were students of Liceo Nº 5 and School Nº 98, representatives of the NGO Gira Luna, the INAU Advanced Home for Women and a delegation of young people from Tandil, Argentina who won the Mercociudades competition. The event was closed by the children’s chorus of Gira Luna and typical dances by a group of adolescents.

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Preparing children and adolescents to take decisions and participate in community life requires concrete initiatives. Listening to the young is also a positive facet of democratic life in our societies. The idea is to integrate them into debates on cities, emphasize their leading roles and put them on their way of mutual training where conflict is just the first step for the pacific resolution of controversies. “Article 12,” the program sponsored by the Office of the Mayor, the IIHR, the International Association of Educators, the House of Representatives, the National Administration of Public Education, the Council for Secondary Education, the Council for Professional Technical Education and the INAU, with the collaboration of SUAT, seeks to involves hundreds of children and adolescents in the practice of democracy .

The first step of this initiative will take place between June and August of 2016 in eight institutions during school hours. Teachers will aid in studying matters such as participation, citizenship and human rights. Two hundred sixty children and adolescents will be elected to the Parliament, 130 of them as alternates. The goal is to come up with projects to present to the Departmental Board and the National Parliament. Between August and September there will be zonal meetings and then a general meeting, followed by four meetings from September to December in the House of Representatives .

Artícle 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child reads as follows :

“1.- States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2.- For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law ”.

This is what we are doing .