Child Participation – April 26 2021 “I felt like an ambassador for all children of Niger” Cliquez ici pour la version française. 14-year old Inoussa from SOS Children’s Villages Niamey, Niger delivered a statement to a United Nations audience as part of the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) pre-session. The UPR is the UN human rights mechanism that reviews the overall human rights situation in all 193 UN member states. Inoussa was the only child to make a statement. The UPR is a periodic review of the human rights records of all United Nations member states by their peers to improve the human rights situation in every country. A state undergoes this review every four to five years and receives recommendations from other states on how to improve human rights implementation. Civil society organizations can use this as an opportunity to share their expertise and evidence and make sure that all human rights areas are covered. This means, for instance, to specifically address children’s rights. Inoussa contributed a statement to the pre-session on behalf of SOS Children’s Villages Niger, but also considered himself to be speaking for all children. “I felt like of an ambassador for all children of Niger, defending their rights. It also made me feel immensely joyful which gave me more confidence,” he says. The UPR pre-session is a one-hour public meeting between the invited civil society representatives, the national human rights institution and the diplomatic representatives to discuss the human rights situation in the country under review. Addressing this audience, the 14-year old called for a formal system of foster care in Niger, regulated, authorized, and monitored by the state and in line with the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children and the 2019 United Nations Resolution on the Rights of the Child focusing on children without parental care. This would help increase the number of alternative care options in the country. Inoussa’s second key point was to demand that citizenship be granted to all children in Niger whose parents are unknown or who are otherwise stateless. Many children are currently stripped of basic children’s rights due to not having a nationality. “I hope that my message will be heard by all world leaders and that the various recommendations will be implemented for the benefit of all children of Niger. I wish to see these things become a reality in Niger,” notes Inoussa. Inoussa, who has been in alternative care for the past eight years, wishes to continue to engage in advocacy. “After this first experience, I want to fully engage in such activities. I feel perfectly at ease doing it and more so, to advocate for children and young people in my country.” Inoussa has shared his experience in his school and community and aims to encourage more children and young people to engage in advocating for their rights. “For this to happen, it is necessary to educate, sensitize and train children and young people on the objectives of what we want to address and on the related benefits for children and young people in Niger,” he says. Learn more: To watch a video of Inoussa’s statement, click here. More information on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is available here. Submissions made during the UPR pre-session of Niger are available here.