East Lothian's 'Greta Thunberg,' 13, fights for children's rights as delegate to UN in Geneva

She has been a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva three times, including one occasion when she moderated an event focused on children as defenders of human rights.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 11:22 am

But Hannah Richardson, from Tranent in East Lothian, is just 13 years old.

While her contemporaries have been absorbed in homework - or social media - Hannah has been championing the rights of children around the world.

In September she returned from the Palais des Nations after being the youngest British child to take part in the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, alongside representatives from Mexico, Canada and the Philippines.

Hannah Richardson outside the UN headquarters in Geneva.

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In one panel session she discussed the relationship between children’s rights and the environment, drawing on her experiences with StreetsAhead, a local community planning project in her home town of Tranent.

One year previously, Hannah had become the youngest person ever to moderate a discussion at the UN, in an event focussed on children as defenders of human rights.

“It was amazing,” Hannah said of her trip to the UN in 2018, “I didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was, and I was nervous.”

Returning to the UN Geneva headquarters this September Hannah felt ‘more confident’.

“I was excited, and happy to be invited,” she said.

“I think it’s great that the UN is listening to children, and inviting us to these things.”

Children need to be ‘more aware of their rights’, she said, and to respect those rights.

She added: “We learned about human rights at school but not about children’s rights. It’s eye-opening for an adult when a child comes up to an adult and is empowered and knows about their rights.”

Hannah’s next involvement will be the Children’s Parliament National Sitting on November 6.

The event, held at the Hub on the Royal Mile, will bring together 40 Members of the Children’s Parliament with senior government leaders and local authorities.

Afterwards Hannah will be taking part in a celebratory march to the Scottish Parliament, and invites children and adults to take part.

She has been inspired by another young marcher, Greta Thunberg, whose journey Hannah has followed on the news.

“Children need to find their confidence,” she said.

“I was interested in children’s rights, and that’s what inspired me.”