21 November 2007


On CRC anniversary, Ishmael Beah appointed UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War

© UNICEF/HQ07-1714/Berkwitz
Former child soldier Ishmael Beah accepts appointment as UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War as Executive Director Ann M. Veneman looks on at UNICEF headquarters in New York.

By Chris Niles

NEW YORK, USA, 20 November 2007 – UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War, Ishmael Beah, has pledged to give a voice and hope to children whose lives have been scarred by violence.

UNICEF announced Mr. Beah’s appointment today to mark the 18th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was also celebrated at events in Geneva, Tokyo and other venues around the world.

The 18-year milestone is considered especially significant because it represents the point at which an entire generation has grown up under the auspices of the CRC, which aims to protect the fundamental rights of every child. UNICEF has launched a special ‘CRC@18’ website to raise awareness about the Convention and involve young people in advocating for their rights.

Dedicated to child protection

“I’m very thankful and humbled,” Mr. Beah said in accepting the UNICEF appointment. “I think for me it’s just a way to give me more strength to continue doing what I’ve already embarked on, what I’ve dedicated my life to doing – which is to make sure that what happened to me doesn’t continue to happen to other children around the world.

“I know the nature of what it is to be forgotten, what it is to lose your humanity, and more importantly, what it is to recover from it and to have another life,” he added.

Mr. Beah was forcibly recruited as a child soldier in Sierra Leone when he was 13. UNICEF helped him to escape the conflict and become rehabilitated. He then moved to the United States to complete his education, began advocating for children’s rights and went on to author the best-selling book, ‘A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier’.

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