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Hear our voices – the rights and best interests of the child in parental separation and care proceedings

Dublin (hybrid) 3 October 2022
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Photograph: Maria Portway

Photograph: Maria Portway

Considering the voice of children and young people in determining their best interests in family courts during parental separation and care proceedings was the focus of an international conference which took place in Dublin on 3 October under the Irish Presidency of the Council of Europe.

The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth of Ireland, Roderic O’Gorman T.D. hosted the conference and the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee T.D. will highlight recent reforms in the area in Ireland.

The conference “Hear our voices – the rights and best interests of the child in parental separation and care proceedings” brought together over 100 participants in Dublin and over 90 participants online, primarily policy-makers and national authorities, high-level representatives from international organisations, child participation experts, professionals working for and with children, members of academia and civil society organisations. Most importantly, it involveed young people who have experienced such proceedings in their childhood.

The goal was to promote the rights and best interests of the child in parental separation and care proceedings, raise the voice of those children who have been, are or will be in this situation, and shared good practices and learnt from positive initiatives undertaken in Ireland and other Council of Europe member states.

Protecting the best interests of the child through child-friendly justice, and giving a voice to every child, are strategic objectives of the Council of Europe’s recently-launched Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027). The conference discussions will feed into the work of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the best interests of the child in parental separation and in care proceedings (CJ/ENF-ISE).

The conference was organised by the Irish Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth in collaboration with the Irish Department of Justice and the Council of Europe.

A final report on this event is being prepared and will be made public after the event.

The conference is accessible online via a dedicated youtube page.

 Link to the recorded stream of the conference