Scottish teenager heads to Geneva for United Nations discussion on children’s rights

A 13-year-old East Lothian girl is travelling to Geneva to speak at a United Nations event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Schoolchildren take part in a student climate march on February 15, 2019 in Brighton, England. Picture: Getty Images
Schoolchildren take part in a student climate march on February 15, 2019 in Brighton, England. Picture: Getty Images

Hannah Richardson is returning to the Palais des Nations in Geneva a year after she became the youngest moderator, aged 12, in a UN discussion on children as defenders of human rights.

The Children’s Parliament said the teenager is the only child from the UK to participate in the event today, alongside representatives from Switzerland, Mexico, Canada and the Philippines.

She will give input during one of the panel sessions when she will discuss the relationship between children’s rights and the environment, drawing on her experiences in StreetsAhead Tranent, a community planning project in her home town, and its social and environmental impacts.

Hannah said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with Children’s Parliament and having been given the opportunity to try to make a difference for children and young people locally, nationally and now internationally.”

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She has been working with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as part of a global children’s advisory team.

Cathy McCulloch, co-director of the Children’s Parliament, said: “We are delighted Hannah is keen to maintain the momentum she has built up over the past three years with her involvement at the United Nations.

“It’s important for children in Scotland to feel part of an international community who are working together to improve awareness, understanding and implementation of children’s human rights.”

Paul Reynolds, Hannah’s head teacher at Ross High School in Tranent, said: “Hannah’s involvement in promoting children’s rights throughout the last few years has been inspirational.

“As a school we have thoroughly enjoyed being on this journey with her.

“As a Gold Rights Respecting School, Ross High believes strongly in this work and we are very proud that Hannah has been an advocate not just in school but on an international stage.

“We thank her and wish her all the very best.”

Established in 1996, Children’s Parliament is a Scottish initiative to provide young people from diverse backgrounds across the country with opportunities to share their views and experiences so that they can influence positive change.

The UN holds “a day of general discussion” on chidren’s issues every two years in Geneva.