Friday, November 20, 2009

Rights of The Child: Photographers and celebrities make Photo-Pledge for Children's Rights

LONDON, November 20 -- Sony World Photography Awards and UNICEF Mark the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

The World Photography Organisation and UNICEF are launching a global initiative to raise awareness of children's rights and mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 20 November 2009.

Together, the World Photography Organisation and UNICEF, supported by Sony, are calling on people around the world to pledge one photo, accompanied by a written pledge, portraying one of the five fundamental children's rights:

- The right to survival;
- to education;
- to health;
- to protection from harm, abuse and exploitation;
- and to be heard

World renowned photographers Reza, Mary Ellen Mark, Bruce Davidson, Carol Allen Storey and Jonathan Torgovnik have already made photo-pledges along with celebrity UNICEF Ambassadors including David Beckham, Jemima Khan and Ewan McGregor who have pledged powerful images personally chosen from field-trips they have taken as part of their role.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20th November 1989 and established a set of fundamental rights for all children and young people that protect them against violence, discrimination and harm. Today, the CRC has been signed by almost every single country, making it the most widely ratified human rights agreement in the world.

Great progress has been made in the past 20 years, including improvements to under-five child mortality and falling numbers of children working in hazardous labour. However, major challenges remain. Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence annually; 150 million children aged between five and 14 are engaged in child labour and more than 1 million children are detained through justice systems around the world at any one time.

Astrid Merget, Creative Director, World Photography Organisation said: " The World Photography Organisation is privileged to work with UNICEF on this initiative which aims to use the powerful medium of photography to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). We consider it our obligation to use the powerful tool of photography to communicate important global issues each year and are fortunate to be joined in this effort by so many amazing supporters ".

Ellen Tolmie, Senior Photography Edtior, UNICEF said: "UNICEF is thrilled that the Convention of the Rights of the Child has been chosen by the World Photography Awards this year as the focus of its annual campaign. Inviting young people from around the world to participate offers an opportunity for children's visual expressions to be seen internationally. Additionally there is a possibility of winning participation in a photography workshop with their peers in a developing country."

Everyone has a shared responsibility to uphold the values and promises made to children in the CRC. Amateur and professional photographers can show their support by making photo-pledges where they will receive details of how to enter. All photo-pledges will form a special online exhibition showcased on the World Photography Awards website. Selected images will also be exhibited alongside the UNICEF Ambassadors' images and those taken by World Photography Academy Members at the annual Sony World Photography Awards Festival in Cannes, April 2010. These images will then go on a global tour with the awards' touring exhibition. Everyone who submits a photo will receive emails suggesting actions they can take to change the policies and practices that deny children their rights.

Written and photographic pledges include:

David Beckham

David Beckham pledged: "I have chosen this image to pledge my support for children's rights. It shows a woman in a feeding centre I visited in Sierra Leone with UNICEF. She was holding her toddler close to her and you can see she just looks so worried. The child was malnourished and the woman had a cup of special, fortified milk to help the child regain its strength. The UNICEF-supported centre is the only one in the northern part of Sierra Leone, which means thousands of children still can't get the health care they need. Every child has the right to be healthy. We can't turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of young children who die every day in the developing world, mostly from causes that are preventable .I pledge my make support to fulfil children's rights. Please do the same if you can. Thank you."

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark pledged: "Every child has the right to a home" and said: "I first met Jesse Damm in 1987 when he was a little boy-only 4-years-old. He was homeless. He lived in shelters and sometimes he lived with his entire family (and their pit bull) in a car. He was extremely stressed and he cried a lot.

"This photograph of Jesse was taken in 1994 on the roadside in Llano, California three hours outside of Los Angeles. At that time, Jesse, his sisters Chrissy, Summer & Ashley, his mother Linda, and his step-father Dean were again homeless. They were squatting in a deserted ranch in a canyon. Eventually, his abusive step-father left and his mother remarried and the family found a home. But, Jesse never recovered from the horrible insecurity and stress of his childhood.

"As he grew, he spent many years drifting around and although he stayed out of trouble with the police, he was just surviving and always on the edge. One night, while defending his sister from her ex-boyfriend, Jesse somehow got a hold of a gun and shot and killed the ex-boyfriend. He plead guilty and is now serving a 9-year-sentence. When I contacted him last Christmas to see if I could send him anything, he said all he wanted was a photograph".

Ewan McGregor

Ewan McGregor pledged: "This is my pledge photo to support children's rights. It tells a story. These children are orphaned and vulnerable children in a community based childcare centre in Malawi. They are flat out asleep having an afternoon nap in a centre that's been set up to provide them with a meal, toys and childcare and a time and place to be children. It looks basic. It is. But the centre is helping give these children their rights - care, support, education and more. I pledge my absolute support for children's rights. I hope you'll do the same".


Reza pledged: "Every child has the right to a childhood" and quoted the following poem:

I said what about my eyes?
Keep them on the road.
I said what about my passion?
Keep it burning.
I said what about my heart?
Tell me what you hold inside it.
I said pain and sorrow.
He said. Stay with it.
Rumi (1207-1273)

Source: World Photography Organisation

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