Impressive debate with Children’s Peace Prize winners and Desmond Tutu

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the International Children’s Peace Prize, the Economic Faculty Association Rotterdam and Erasmus School of Economics organized a special debate in the Auditorium of Erasmus University Rotterdam on Monday 17 November 2014.

Approximately 600 attendees, including many students from not only the university but secondary education too, debated with Thandiwe Chama, Om Prakash Gurjar, Baruani Ndume, Francia Simon, Chaeli and Kesz Valdez, winners of the International Children’s Peace Prize from previous years. Guest of honor was Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

The afternoon was opened with a beautiful dance performance by students of Theaterschool Hofplein Rotterdam, the largest drama academy for children, adolescents and young adults in the Netherlands, followed by speeches of Alderman Hugo de Jonge (portfolio Education, Youth and Care) and Marc Dullaert, Children's Ombudsman, director of the Kids Rights Foundation and founder of the International Children’s Peace Prize. Hugo de Jonge praised the community involvement of the students of the EFR (Economic Faculty association Rotterdam) in organizing this debate.

In their own particular way the recent winners debated with the audience how they are committed to the rights of the child. The whole program was professionally moderated by former Prime Minister Professor Jan Peter Balkenende and alumnus Arne Gast.

During the debate, students were given the opportunity to ask questions to the Children’s Peace Prize Winners and Desmond Tutu. To the question how young people can stay inspired as they get older and suffer disappointments, Tutu answered with the following words: ‘These young people have been inspired to want to make the world a better place. It can be, but they need your help. Because this is the only home we have. If we mess it up we’re done.’

The Children’s Peace Prize winners also left an overwhelming impression. ‘It was very impressive to listen such inspiring young adults. They have been through so much, and their passion and dedication is an example for many students.’ Said one of the students of Erasmus School of Economics after the debate.

American girl Neha Gupta tenth International Children’s Peace Prize winner

The International Children’s Peace Prize 2014 has been won by Neha Gupta (18). The prize was presented on Tuesday 18 November by Desmond Tutu, in The Hague in the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 Kailash Satyarthi and Children’s Peace Prize winners from previous years.

Winner Neha Gupta lives in Philadelphia (US) and is of Indian descent. KidsRights received 46 nominations from 25 different countries. From this group, the Expert Committee chose Neha as the winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize 2014.

A girl with a mission

During her annual visit to an orphanage in India, Neha realized that the children there did not have the same rights as she did. In order to help these vulnerable children, at the age of nine, she set up her own foundation: Empower Orphans. What started as a local fund-raising campaign grew into an organization that has now collected over 1.3 million dollars and helped more than 25,000 vulnerable children. Neha stands up for access to basic education and healthcare. Her efforts are directed not only at children in India, but also in her own region of Philadelphia (US), where many children live below the poverty line. Neha is proof that children can set the world in motion to help other children: “My message to the world is to convert empathy into action and to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Special collaboration between KidsRights and Erasmus School of Economics

In 2013 Children’s rights organisation KidsRights and Erasmus School of Economics presented the first KidsRights Index. KidsRights took the initiative to develop an index that takes a scientific approach to charting the status of the implementation of children’s rights worldwide. Erasmus School of Economics and the International Institute of Social Studies were approached to help create the index. In developing this index, the partners used existing data: quantitative data published annually by UNICEF in the State of the World’s Children and qualitative data for each country that signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989, from the Concluding Observations published by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The KidsRights Index is a global measuring instrument that places emphasis on compliance with the rights of the child.

More information

Media attention

EenVandaag, a current affairs television programme broadcast on the Dutch public television network NPO 1, paid attention to the debate and interviewed 2014 winner Neha Gupta on campus. Click here.

Highlights of the International Children's Peace Prize Ceremony 2014 in The Hague in the presence of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, click here.


For more information: Ronald de Groot, Communication Officer at Erasmus School of Economics, 06 53 641 846.