The Council of Europe, in co-operation with EuroChild and ChildPact, held a seminar on 15 and 16 December 2016 in Strasbourg on social rights, protection of children from violence, effective advocacy at the national level, and the available instruments offered by the Council of Europe to protect children’s rights. The meeting gathered 46 participants from national, regional and European networks and coalitions, international organizations, CSOs and the Council of Europe. The Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia - MODS was represented by Jasmina Mikovic from Praxis, a member of the Steering Committee of MODS.
Regina Jensdottir, CoE Head of the Children’s Division, presented general overview and working methods of the Council of Europe, including the Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021). The Strategy sets the following five priority areas to guarantee the rights of the child: equal opportunities for all children, participation of all children, a life free from violence for all children, child-friendly justice for all children and rights of the child in the digital environment. Children in Council of Europe member States are entitled to enjoy the full range of human rights safe-guarded by the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments. These include civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This Strategy seeks to encompass all these categories of human rights and sets out the CoE’s and its member States’ commitment to make these rights a reality for all children.
In addition, the Council of Europe’s instruments in relation to combating violence against children were one of the topics. It is worth mentioning that highly significant documents in combating violence against children are the Convention on the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention), the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) and the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Furthermore, it was pointed out why the European Social Charter is relevant for children’s rights and how it works. Also, the Registry of the European Court of Human Rights presented why the ECHR is relevant for children’s rights and what the most recent case law is.
The participants were encouraged to use CoE instruments, such as legal instruments, resolutions, reports and recommendations in order to hold their governments accountable. The representatives of the CoE emphasized that it is of great importance to encourage and facilitate the sustained provision of information to the CoE and to amplify the voice of the CSOs as to positively impact the work and the efficiency of the monitoring bodies of the CoE and enhance the implementation of the CoE standards.