Welcoming child activism as an expression of children’s right to participate in decisions concerning them; improving responses to violence against children and tackling ”taboo” issues such as peer to peer sexual violence; ensuring that children do not become a bargaining chip in the situation of acrimonious separations of parents; protecting children from online crimes – these are just a few examples of challenges that require an adjustment of laws and policies, as well as changes in social norms and attitudes towards children that remain an obstacle to the full enjoyment of their rights.
An international conference on children’s rights held on 13-14 November in Strasbourg, in the framework of the French Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, looked at what European states are doing to tackle both remaining and emerging challenges in children’s rights protection, what gaps are still to be filled, and which opportunities are there to seize. The conference was opened by Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe; and Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State on Child Protection, France. Other high-level speakers included Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos, President of the European Court of Human Rights; Dunja Mijatović, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe; Ásmundur Einar Daðason, Minister of Social Affairs and Children of Iceland; Elena Bonetti, Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family of Italy; Kasimierz Kuberski, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy of Poland and Najat Maalla M’jid, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Violence against Children.
Young delegates actively participated in the conference and acted as “challengers” in “Power Talks”, an innovative format of dynamic debates on a range of thought-provoking issues.