Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Statement by Ambassador Karel J.G van Oosterom

On Wednesday 20 November in the United Nations Head Quarters, the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN and the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN, together with Child Helpline International, UNICEF, 2nd Floor helpline and the Special Representative to the Secretary General on Violence Against Children organized the event “Can you hear us now? Giving a voice to children and young people”. The Netherlands Representative to the UN, Mr. Karel van Oosterom (@KvanOosterom), opened the meeting.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I want to especially thank our distinguished panel for being here today. As well as the Mission of Sri Lanka, Child Helpline International, and the 2NDFLOOR Youth Helpline, for their hard work in helping organize this great event. It humbles me to see present a number of fellow Ambassadors, which no doubt shows the importance of the today’s topic.

In Sri Lanka Children’s Day is also celebrated on October 1 (the same day as the International Day of Older Persons). I think it is important to bridge the gap between generations. Today’s mission is to build a sustainable platform on which children and young people can stand. Doing so will ensure that their voices will no longer be ignored.

Looking at the crowd here today, I would like to say that together we can fulfill that mandate. Working together means building a partnership. I want to emphasize that the Netherlands is your partner for peace, justice and development. These are three concepts which run parallel to the stream of advancing the position of children and young people.

Peace through protecting young people. Children, like every group in society, deserve to be free from violence;

Justice, in promoting their rights by giving them a voice;

And the third, development: listening to children now means planning for all of our futures.

Indeed, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka said that children hold the key to the future of a country. Development can only be achieved if we work together to build a better quality of life. It is through child helplines that these three goals are furthered, and the Netherlands is committed to supporting you on the journey of fulfilling them.

Child helplines are a trusted medium which glance into the lives of young people and help understand what is important to them. It is a door which can be opened to uncover a range of other issues. As a result, we as policy-makers need to hear what young people are saying and steer the peace, justice, and development agenda accordingly.

Let me conclude by taking inspiration from Zehra Sariaslan, our Youth Representative from the Netherlands, who recently stated during her speech to the Third committee that there will be no peace, no justice, no development, without giving a voice to young people. And as your partner for all of these three goals, I want to restate my country’s commitment in ensuring the voice of this important group will be heard.

To some, children are seen as a powerless group. But there is nothing powerless about 126 million stories. Technology enabled us to hear those stories which will be presented in today’s report. We must ensure that the discussion on this topic does not stop here. Let's do this by expanding the conversation online through twitter, which you will see I have started on my twitter account @KvanOosterom. You will see in front of you a page of twitter hashtag slogans, which you may use in your tweets about today’s presentation. Let’s pledge to follow this event by making a strong virtual presence online. I look forward to connecting with you both in today’s event and online.