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Motivation for the nomination:

THE CHILDREN'S PEACE MOVEMENT is nominated for THE WORLD'S CHILDREN'S PRIZE because it has, in an environment filled with violence, grown into a force for peace in Colombia. It is the power of the children themselves which has been put to use. Children teach other children about the rights of the child and that they have the right to demand respect for their rights. Children also help other children to forget the violence and the terrible things they've experienced, by involving them in moments of play and companionship. Through the Children's Peace Movement, Colombia's children demand peace and an end to the violence in their country.


Nominated for
The World's Children's Prize

Violence in Colombia affects the lives of 18 million children every day and has been going on for a long time. The country was seized by the Spanish in 1499 after which followed one hundred years of violence.

In 1948 a civil war began and 300,000 people were killed. Since then the fighting has continued.

The country's army, three guerilla armies and thousands of private, so called paramilitary soldiers fight and kill in Colombia today. In addition there is gang violence and death squads everywhere in the cities. Those worst affected are children.


Over the past 12 years nearly 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their own country - Six of every ten refugees are children. Many of these refugee-children don't go to school. Their families had to leave everything they owned when they fled. Now they can not afford to pay school fees. Many children have lost one or both of their parents. There are at least 6,000 child soldiers in the country, divided between the various armies and troops. Every sixth child soldier has killed someone, and six of ten have seen others kill.


During the year 2000 more than 500 children were killed. Land mines exist everywhere in the country. In one study, done by UNICEF, 46% of Colombian children said that violence prevents them from going to school. 61% had no hope for the future.


In 1996, 27 children gathered together from different organizations throughout the country. That was when the Children's Peace Movement was born. UNICEF also invited other organizations, among them the Catholic Church, the Red Cross and The Boy Scouts. Today more than 100,000 children, who belong to more than 400 children's and youth organizations are members of the Peace Movement. In a child vote in 1996, 2.7 million children voted to choose which of children's rights were most important in Colombia today.


The answer was clear, children demand peace and an end to violence in the country. In the Children's Peace Movement children help other children who have suffered from violence. Children also contact politicians and demand that, for example, schools and parks shall be designated as peace zones and that children shall be given protection when they walk home from school.

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Text and Photo : ERLING SÖDERSTRÖM