Making children the centre of concern

Committee of Ministers Brussels 9-10 December 2014
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© Shutterstock

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As part of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Belgian authorities in collaboration with the Council of Europe Children’s Rights Division will organise a European conference focused on “the child’s best interests”. This will be a two-day conference organised in Brussels on 9 and 10 December 2014.

The conference will explore and discuss the challenges raised for decision-makers by the application of this complex notion, and will pay specific attention to the child’s best interests in family litigation.

The target group of the conference consists of the political and operational decision-makers involved in the decisions affecting children’s lives. Two guests per Council of Europe member state will be able to take part in the proceedings. The total attendance is estimated at 140.

History has amply demonstrated that times of economic, financial, social and environmental crises do not benefit children and the defence and advancement of their interests. Children must therefore be more central than ever to the concerns of decision-makers. The CRC stipulates that “in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”. Placing the best interests of the child on the agenda of a European conference is the way chosen by the Belgian authorities to restore the child’s proper place at the centre of its own interests.

One of the main challenges is to rally decision-makers around the idea of the child’s best interests so that they can make it an overriding consideration in their daily decision-making. It is in fact a matter of judges, psycho-medical-social workers, teachers and other child and youth welfare professionals being able to have at their disposal the tools needed for evaluating as well as determining the child’s best interests. To achieve this objective, the Belgian authorities have elected to make better known and to develop the standard-setting provisions which circumscribe this concept, the ethical rules arising from it, and its attendant procedural rules.

To discover the complete programme of the conference, you can visit the site dedicated to it by clicking on this link:

If you wish to obtain further information on the conference, do not hesitate to contact:

Christel De Craim: [email protected]

Malvina Govaert: [email protected]

Joost Van Haelst: [email protected]