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  What does the UN do for children?
Updated 10 May 2002, 17.21
Closing ceremony of the UN Children's Forum

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
The United Nations

400 young delegates from around the world have attended a UN Children's Summit in New York.

They voted on young people's priorities, and presented their results to a special session of the UN.

Students draw up a convention on pupil rights.

Learning aims

  • What the United Nations Children's Summit was about

  • The UN's involvement in children's rights

  • Why it is hard to draft and enforce conventions
Read the news story:

What is the United Nations?

Explain the following four key points about the UN.

[1] That the United Nations is made up of 189 countries from around the world. It is often called the UN.

[2] It was set up in 1945, after the Second World War, as a way of bringing people together and to avoid further wars.

[3] The UN has a section called Unicef that tries to help children.

[4] The UN has a convention on children's rights. They would like it to be followed by all countries, as a set of rules about the treatment of children.

    Ask the class:

  • Why is it important to have an organisation that is bigger than any one country?

    Prompt: Stops governments mistreating people, helps stop wars between countries, looks after all the world's young people

  • Why might the UN have problems getting all countries to treat children fairly?

    Prompt: Some countries use children in their armies, many children work in factories, poor countries can't afford to provide schools

Main activity

[1] Children's rights in school

Working in groups of five the class draft their own conventions on the treatment of pupils at their school.

The convention should cover relations between staff and students.

    Areas to consider:

  • What teachers call you
  • How property is treated
  • Shouting at students
  • How you talk to each other
  • When you may talk
  • When your work is marked
  • When your work is given in
  • Students appearance
  • Staff appearance

[2] Pool your ideas

When the conventions are drafted join pairs of groups together. Students should now work as a group of ten.

Using 'show of hands' voting the group must come up with a list of only the five most important rules.

They do this by combining both groups conventions and then picking the most popular five rules.

[3] Ask the class:

Was it easy to slim the conventions down to only five rules?

What were the advantages and disadvantages of voting?

How else could you pick the top five rules?

Extension activity

Working individually storyboard a TV advert. It should convince people in powerful positions to take the UN's convention on children's rights seriously.


Could students get their rules obeyed?

Coming up with a convention is just the first step. Like the UN, students could have problems enforcing the rules.

  • Would all teachers be prepared to follow the rules?

  • What would happen to people who broke the rules?

Teachers' Background

  • The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the lead UN organization working for the long-term survival, protection and development of children. In some 150 countries, UNICEF's programmes focus on immunization, primary health care, nutrition and basic education.

  • Created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 to help children after World War II in Europe, UNICEF was first known as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations system

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is an agreement between countries to obey the same laws and all but 2 countries have signed up to the Convention.

  • The UN originally had 51 Member States now it has 189 members.

  • The UN's purpose is to work for peace and development, based on justice, human dignity and the well-being of all people.

  • They meet in the General Assembly, which is the closest thing to a world parliament.

  • Each country has a single vote.

  • The Assembly's decisions become resolutions (not laws) that carry the weight of world governmental opinion.

  • The United Nations Headquarters is in New York City but the land and buildings are international territory.

  • The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the lead UN organization working for the long-term survival, protection and development of children. In some 150 countries, UNICEF's programmes focus on immunization, primary health care, nutrition and basic education.

For all links and resources click at top right.

More InfoBORDER=0
WorldPupils dress up for kid's charity
WorldUN wins Nobel Peace Prize
Find OutGuide to the United Nations
Find OutGuide to the Childens' summit
ClubI'm going to the UN Summit in New York
ClubA Palestinian delegates view
ClubA Pakistani delegates view


Web Links
Kofi Annan biography
United Nations
Letters to Mrs Annan
Summary of childrens rights
Unicef education
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