I am honoured and delighted to have the opportunity to make, in my capacity as the first Commissioner for Children´s Rights in Cyprus, the opening Address at the first international Conference, organized by the International Childhood and Youth Research Network, on “Child and Youth Research in the 21st Century: A Critical Appraisal”.
I would first like to welcome the distinguished participants; I would also like to congratulate the organizers of this Conference for their initiative to set up this International Network and for their persistent and active engagement in the study of children. The academic proficiencyof the people involved, the scope of the thematic areas it engages with, and its intense activities, make the Network a significant actor in the field, with whom my Office will be very keen in cooperating.
The institution of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights of Cyprus was established by the Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights Law, 2007 (Law 74(I)/2007), which provides for the appointment of a Commissioner for the Protection of Children’s Rights, the establishment and operation of his Office and other related matters. Pursuant to Law 74(I)/2007, I was appointed as the first Commissioner on 29 September 2007 and officially assumed my duties on 6 February 2008, after the necessary stage for setting up my Office. The Office is now fully operating, though additional staff is expected to be recruited.
The mission of the Commissioner, as prescribed by Law 74(I)/2007, is to protect and promote children´s rights. For carrying out his mission the Law gives the Commissioner very extensive competences, which include the following: to represent children and their interests at all levels; to promote public awareness and sensitivity so that the society will be mobilized and safeguard in practice children’s rights in the family, the school, the community and the society in general; to identify and promote the views of the children where they themselves cannot be heard; to supervise and monitor the implementation of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention; to monitor the legislation and practices and to submit proposals, aiming at its harmonization with the relevant international treaties; to promote ratification of such treaties by Cyprus; to carry out public awareness and change of attitude campaigns with regard to the status of children in society; to submit, on behalf of any child, applications for the appointment of a special representative in judicial proceedings affecting the child; to represent children and their interests in procedures affecting the children, where provided by law; to conduct studies and research on the status of children in the society; and, in general, to take any action as he may deem necessary, in the fulfillment of his mission.
The mission of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network is to promote, internationally, the inter-disciplinary study of children and young people in order to further raise awareness and understanding of issues that affect their well-being. Its aims include, among others:
bringing together organizations which produce research on children and childhood as well as organizations which utilize research findings,
fostering collaboration between stakeholders, in order to produce better ways to address issues affecting the well-being of children and young people so as to benefit and improve outcomes for children and young people,
encouraging the production and dissemination of research and the creation of a research environment that allows the voices of children and young people to be clearly heard and understood,
promoting greater collaboration between practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and funders and improving linkages between practice, research and policy.
The importance of the establishment of international networks, such as yours, can easily be identified and appraised: it offers excellent opportunities for international cooperation in the field of the study of children with a view of exchanging knowledge, presenting new perspectives on various issues, keeping abreast with international developments and benefiting from the experience and expertise of other organizations and individuals involved in similar fields.
The importance of today´s Conference can largely be attributed to its success in bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers. Having as one of its main aims, to critically explore the intersection between research, policy, and practice, by facilitating a dialogue between the different perspectives, the Conference envisages a productive, inter-disciplinary dialogue among the various stakeholders who are, in different ways, implicated in the lives and welfare of children and youth.
The general aim of all participants of this Conference, is the improvement of the place of children in the society. The importance of research towards the achievement of this goal is undisputable. Research is necessary for effective policy design and reform, while their successful implementation requires the use of research as the guiding instrument. Furthermore, research is the most reliable way to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of a policy. Policy makers should actively take part in research-policy networks that are created at international, regional, and national levels. Furthermore, researchers and academics could identify particular policies in need of reconsideration or reform, and organize dialogues with policy-makers and other stakeholders.
Although tensions certainly exist between social research and policy-making, what should be emphasized is their synergy and positive interactions. The tensions should be regarded as productive and healthy; they may generate critical thinking, creative solutions, and innovations.
The Office of the Commissioner for Children´s Rights recognizes the critical role of research in the identification of policies in need of reconsideration, problematic sectors and, also, in the effective policy design. As I already pointed out, the conduct of studies and research on the status of children in Cyprus is specifically prescribed by the Law as one of my competences.
In this context, I have included in the Action Plan for 2008 of my Office, 4 topics for research, in order to ascertain the level of compliance with the respect of the rights of the child, in the following fields:
(i) Child Care Institutions,
(ii) Adoptions in Cyprus,
(iii) Children and the Court System
(iv) Recreation of Children.
It is my conviction that, research can prove a supportive and guiding instrument in every step in our way. The engagement of this Conference with multiple thematic areas, ranging from Children´s Rights, Child Poverty, Children as Researchers, Child Abuse, Citizenship and Identity, Methodology and Ethics in Childhood Studies, Theory on Childhood Studies, Children´s voices, Teenage Pregnancy, Education, Street Children, Children and Consumption and Children and the Internet, will offer an invaluable wealth of knowledge which will guide us in our future endeavours.
In concluding, I would like to stress that, I am particularly pleased that the present Conference is taking place, as I am convinced that it will contribute to a much needed awareness - raising on issues relating to children and their rights; and to congratulate the International Childhood and Youth Research Network for organising it.
I wish to all participants a fruitful and constructive Conference.
Opening speech icyrnet-28.doc
Πίσω στην προηγούμενη σελίδα