I am honoured and delighted to welcome you all tonight in Limassol, on the occasion of the 6th Annual Conference of Eurochild. I am particularly pleased to be hosting this reception for the participants and guests of Eurochild, as this is the first time that an international Conference on monitoring child well-being is held in Cyprus. For this, allow me, first, to congratulate and thank the organizers – Eurochild and the Pancyprian Coordinating Committee for the Protection and Welfare of Children (PSEPEP).
The upcoming 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a great opportunity to commit ourselves to developing even more efficient frameworks guaranteeing to our children a happier childhood.
As the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Cyprus, I am committed, not only to monitoring the effective implementation of the provisions of the UN CRC, but, also, to initiate activities which will promote awareness-raising and sensitivity on children’s rights. Practices in European countries indicate that important steps have been made in the field of children’s rights however, continuous efforts are needed to ensure that policies, measures and administrative practices are constantly improved and adapted to the CRC standards, no matter the cost. In the middle of an economic crisis, that is affecting, to a greater or lesser extent, all EU member states, we are, now more than ever, facing bigger challenges and have greater obstacles to overcome, in our efforts to build a children-friendly environment that holds, above all, the best interest of the child.
Monitoring, measuring and developing an efficient set of indicators is an important priority of my work. Indicators should be formulated on the basis of the UN CRC by adopting a child rights-based approach in line with the four general principles: protection against all forms of discrimination the best interest of the child as a primary consideration the right to life and participation, that is, the right to express an opinion and to have that opinion taken into account, in any matter affecting the child.
Monitoring is the ongoing process of observing a situation in order to determine what further action needs to be taken. Any monitoring process needs to ensure that children’s views are taken into account through collecting qualitative and quantitative data with child participatory methods. Acknowledging the diversity of children’s lives, indicators have to be appropriately developed so that they measure the entire spectrum of different needs and conditions in children’s lives, such as, ethnic origin, disabilities, gender, age, etc. Of course, we should bear in mind that the best interest of the child is always our top priority, in all stages of implementation and, also, the right to life, survival and development which must be reflected in the indicators within a broad perspective that underlines our commitment to guaranteeing optimum quality of life.
We must strengthen our commitment to children’s rights and support the implementation of international standards that, at the same time, are culturally sensitive and able to capture all aspects of children’s realities. Thus, building a culture of children’s rights, based on comprehensive knowledge of the vulnerabilities, the capacities and, above all, the rights of the child, should be a never ending process.
To achieve our goals, relying on a broad range of expertise in areas such as, health, human rights, media, education, policies for children with disabilities, legislative processes, etc., is a prerequisite. Transposing CRC provisions into concrete actions that will upgrade children’s lives in Europe, is not an easy task. Therefore, co-operation between government, independent institutions, social partners, academia, NGOs and others, is vital. I am constantly working towards this direction, since bringing together all actors engaging in the field of promoting children’s rights is absolutely necessary to create new monitoring instruments. Establishing high standards, is a good way of ensuring that all parties involved will work hard and sustain their efforts to meet those standards.
Before concluding, I would like to thank “Photos Photiades Group of Companies” and “KEAN Industries” for offering the drinks we will be enjoying tonight and, it goes without saying, all those who assisted in the preparation of this Conference.
It is my sincere belief that this Conference will, not only contribute to developing better monitoring policies, but will, also, help in raising public awareness on children’s rights and send a powerful message, at national and international level, about the vital importance of implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
I wish you an enjoyable evening, and a productive Conference with constructive discussions and, above all, a pleasant stay in Cyprus.
Omilia Eurochild 11-11-2009.doc
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