Theme I: Strengthening child protection systems in the face of crisis situations

The rights of the child are at greater risk during crisis and emergency situations. The impact on children of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate change emergency and the migration crisis illustrate well the need to reinforce prevention, protection and response systems. This session looked at measures taken by States to address some of the specific challenges emerging from current crisis situations and identified key steps needed to strengthen child protection systems and reduce children’s vulnerability in crisis or emergency situations. 

”Deep dive conversations” covered:

  • Ensuring children’s access to quality mental health services
  • Recognising and enforcing children’s environmental rights

Theme II: Empowering children and overcoming obstacles to their right to participate

The participation of children in decision-making as a standard practice is already reflected in the commitments of many European leaders, international and European organisations, national authorities, experts, and professionals who have witnessed the substantial benefits of listening and acting upon children’s opinions, expertise and views. However, longstanding practices, social attitudes and political and economic barriers still prevent children from expressing their views in matters that affect them. What is needed to create a more favourable context and provide more opportunities for children to participate? How can we support their activism? What are the particular challenges and risks faced by children involved in activism and standing up for human rights?

”Deep dive conversations” covered:

  • Promoting legal clinics as a means of strengthening children’s access to justice
  • Understanding the challenges faced by children as defenders of human rights

Theme III: Upholding the rights of the child in a fast-evolving technological world

Digital technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for children’s well-being and development, enhancing their enjoyment of human rights. However, the complex and constantly evolving nature of the digital environment also presents many risks to children’s safety and creates new challenges for the protection of children’s right to privacy, freedom from violence and exploitation, among others. How can policies and laws effectively protect children in their use of digital technologies, for example against online sexual exploitation and sexual abuse? Which opportunities are offered by artificial intelligence for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of online child sexual abuse and exploitation?

”Deep dive conversations” covered:

  • Protecting children from online sexual abuse and exploitation
  • Artificial intelligence: maximising opportunities while minimising risks

Theme IV: National strategies for the prevention of violence against children

The Council of Europe Policy Guidelines on Integrated National Strategies for the Protection of Children from Violence have outlined a model approach for the adoption, implementation and monitoring of integrated national strategies for the protection of children from violence. More than 10 years later, have national strategies adopted this approach by combining awareness-raising, prevention, early detection, protection and recovery, and promoting inter-agency co-operation? Which are the key strategies and best practices envisaged in Council of Europe member states? How have national legal and policy frameworks responded to the increase of various forms of violence against children during the Covid-19 pandemic? What are the remaining blind spots to be addressed?

”Deep dive conversations” covered:

  • Strengthening child protection against violence through integrated responses
  • Empowering children through education

Finally, the Conference also provided participants with opportunities for networking and more personal exchanges, as well as for discovering specific activities led by partners of the Council of Europe, through different side events (fair of ideas, exhibitions, bilateral meetings etc.).

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