Unprecedented Global Campaign Seeks Millions of Pledges

London, 26 April 2001 -- An unprecedented global pledge campaign on behalf of children, led by an impressive array of international personalities including Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Bill Gates, begins today in London and numerous other locations worldwide.

Called Say Yes for Children, the campaign will reach every part of the globe to rally people behind ten overarching principles that seek to improve and protect the lives of children. They are:

Leave No Child Out
Put Children First
Care for Every Child
Stop Harming and Exploiting Children
Listen to Children
Educate Every Child
Protect Children from War
Protect the Earth for Children
Fight Poverty: Invest in Children

More than a simple sign-up campaign, Say Yes will focus attention on the serious issues that face children today. It is intended to galvanize action at all levels of society, from political leaders to ordinary citizens, in particular children.

"Here is an opportunity to let leaders throughout the world know that we expect them to act, sooner rather than later, to ensure the rights of every child," said former South African President Nelson Mandela. "And to each one of you who is hearing about this campaign, I remind you of your own power and obligation to make the world a better place for children."

The ten principles of Say Yes build on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most ratified international human rights treaty ever, and 1990’s World Summit for Children, where nations committed themselves to specific goals for children and young people. The goal of Say Yes is to build a groundswell of support that will push leaders to live up to these commitments at September’s United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children.

"The Special Session will indeed be a special moment in history—a time for world leaders to commit themselves to specific actions to help the children of the world," said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "Say Yes for Children is an opportunity for all of us to show them the way, and to give visibility and a voice to the children who need it most."

A London middle school will host the international launch of Say Yes for Children, with more than 40 other events planned around the globe. Distributed on paper and via the internet worldwide, from remote hamlets to urban centres, the Say Yes ballot promises to gather millions of pledges.

"With Say Yes we are weaving together the newest form of communication, the internet, with the oldest, person-to-person contact, to create a global voice for change on behalf of children," said the businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates. "This is an initiative that gives people a chance to take action on the ten points of this pledge, to ensure that children grow up in health, peace and dignity."

The Say Yes form (found at begins with a simple plea: "Too many of the world’s children suffer the effects of war, poverty, sickness, discrimination or abuse. This is your opportunity to send a message to the world’s leaders that this is unacceptable. This is your opportunity to Say Yes for Children." It then asks people to pledge support for all ten principles, identify the three most pressing needs for their own country and volunteer to help with future activities.

The ten principles were developed by the Global Movement for Children (GMC), a broad-based coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to children’s rights and well-being. Founding organizations include UNICEF, PLAN International, Save the Children, foundation, World Vision and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.

The first major initiative of the Global Movement for Children, Say Yes will tally pledges throughout the spring and summer, culminating with a presentation of the results to heads of state and governments at the Special Session on Children, scheduled at the UN General Assembly from September 19-21. The ten principles of the Say Yes pledge are part of the Special Session’s draft outcome document - a critical plan of action for children over the next decade.

Celebrities Play Vital Role

World leaders, celebrities and other notables are playing a vital role in Say Yes for Children and the Global Movement for Children. Today, the GMC is launching a rolling series of Public Service Announcements to broadcasters in which prominent individuals make a personal Say Yes pledge: "I believe that children everywhere should be free to grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity." Some of these include Nelson Mandela and his Wife, noted child rights advocate Graça Machel, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Bill Gates, and South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung.

Other well-known celebrities that have pledged their support for Say Yes include:

Lord Attenborough
Harry Belafonte
David Beckham
Judy Collins
Mia Farrow
Sir Alex Ferguson
Julio Iglesias
Anatoly Karpov
Johann Olav Koss
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
Leon Lai
Rigoberta Menchu
Nana Mouskouri
Roger Moore
Youssou N’Dour
Vanessa Redgrave
Sebastião Salgado
Susan Sarandon
Mercedes Sosa
Vendela Thommessen
Sir Peter Ustinov
Maxim Vengerov
George Weah
Robbie Williams

What is the Global Movement for Children?

Launched by Mr. Mandela and Ms. Machel in May 2000, the Global Movement for Children has brought together some of the world’s largest child rights organizations in a unique partnership to raise awareness of the issues facing The world’s children in the run up to the United Nations General Assembly’s Special Session for Children.

The GMC is a coalition of organizations and individuals that share a common vision of a world fit for children, and have the ability to turn that vision into reality. It seeks to build a massive constituency of people from all walks of life to support child rights and demand accountability and action for children in the next century. The GMC calls for leadership at every level of society - both public and private, adults and young people alike - to change the world for children and with children.


For further information, interviews and b-roll material:

Martyn Evans, Origin Communications, London tel: + 44 207 377 99 11,
Shima Islam, UNICEF Media New York, tel: +1 212 824 6949,
Corinne Woods, +1 917 640 0184
Edward Carwardine, + 41 22 209 5523
Jane Evans, +41 1980 841 020 or mobile + 44 7990 591 931
Sally Burnheim, +1 212 326 7566
Samantha Henry, + 1 212 824 6949
Ian Steele, +1 253 815 2247
Jo Fletcher, tel: + 44 207 430 01 62

Note to editors and broadcasters:

Rights-free broadcast-quality video material of young people using the Say Yes website and pledging their commitment to Say Yes in southern Sudan, is available from or from your nearest UNICEF or GMC partner office.

Video of the London launch will also be available from at approximately 14.30 GMT on April 26. A script and shot list of the Say Yes B-roll can be viewed at

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