In 2007 the Child Rights Centre formed the Coalition for Monitoring Child Rights in Serbia (Coalition) and it is a leading organisation since, which consist of civil society organizations which work with issues of improving, promoting and protecting human rights and child rights. The Coalition currently consists of 20 organisations from different parts of Serbia.
Since its founding, Child Rights Centre has been monitoring child rights in Serbia, reporting to the international bodies and committees, and strengthening capacities of civil society in this area. In order to enable comprehensive and continul monitoring of the situation of children in all domains, the Centre has been working on the development of indicators for each individual area of child rights. Based on these indicators, Child Rights Centre conducted research, published their results and compiled independeent comprehensive reports on the situation of child rights in Serbia. A result of this process, the first Alternative Report to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Optional Protocols, compiled by the Coalition led by Child Rights Centre. The Child Rights Centre pays special attention to children’s participation in this process of monitoring and reporting on the situation of child rights and support it.
Each of the members of the Coalition has a long experience in the field of their work. Fields of work of partners are in more details described in the 3-year strategic plan. So far, the work of the Coalition, starting from the introductory 5-day training on the monitoring of child rights, through continuous upgrading of skills and knowledge through trainings and additional readings, all the partner organizations have built a high level of competence in the field of monitoring. At the same time, direct work with children, families and professionals who work with children, gives them a clear insight into the needs of the target group. Members of the Coalition are members in many national and international coalitions and networks. Most of them have experience in cooperation with government and local self government.
The joint work has significantly raised the level of capacities of organisations for monitoring and to a certain degree strengthened the influence on decision makers. Coalition has become recognized by the state and civil society as a relevant party in monitoring and reporting to international bodies. It also managed to include children in this process. This gives it a credibility and potential to further enhance the impact on the concrete and visible changes through a process of continuous addressing the public and beneficiaries as well as government agencies.
In order to improve its work and monitoring child rights in Serbia, and to expand cooperation on advocacy, members of the Coalition signed The Memorandum of Co-operation in 2010. Memorandum approached 20 organizations. As part of the Coalition, for advocacy and monitoring activities strengthened were 5 groups of children and youth. Recognizing the benefits for their own organizations, which have been achieved through this process, and estimating that networking can make real and lasting changes for beneficiaries at the local and national level, Coalition formulated strategic plan for the period 2013 – 2015.
Members of the Coalition have recognised that the development of individual capacities of organisations contribute to successful cooperation within the Coalition, and will in the future work to raise the capacity of its own. At the same time they recognized that the work in the Coalition contributes to strengthening the individual capacity of organizations through the exchange of information, experience and knowledge. In order to strengthen their own capacity and intensify and provide long-term mutual collaborations, as one of the priority objectives members of the Coalition determine the improving of the sustainability of the Coalition through the development and implementation of the operational plan for fundraising.
The Coalition was formed with the aim to improve the situation of child rights in Serbia and to make an impact on the creation of policies for children in accordance with the Convention through the process of monitoring and reporting. Therefore, the constant improvement of quality of the process of monitoring and reporting to international bodies and expert and general public is set as one of the priorities. As a next step Coalition sees providing the system of two-way distribution of information on relation beneficiaries (children) – decision-makers, with the aim to enable to children easier realisation of their rights, and present necessary information to the decision-makers in the decision-making process.
Since its inception the work of the Coalition was carried out through the implementation of three types of activities:
Monitoring child rights and reporting to international bodies
Their first joint activity of the Coalition was the preparation of Alternative/Shadow initial report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Serbia, which was presented to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2008. During further cooperation the Coalition has developed alternative reports on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict for the period 2003-2007 and presented them to the Committee in 2009.
Both times, after the adoption of the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Centre has prepared publications which present the reporting process, reports and concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Coalition has continuously monitored the implementation of the recommendations in the Committee’s concluding observations, and for which annual reviews are prepared in electronic form.
Office for Human and Minority Rights of the Republic of Serbia, as the body responsible for preparing the report before international bodies, in November 2012 has formed the working group for preparation of the second and third periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in which, in accordance with the participatory principle of preparation of the report, included the Coalition through its representative.
Directly or through the Child Rights Centre, the Coalition participated in the development of the Common Core Document of the Republic of Serbia for the purpose of reporting before international treaty bodies, both in its initial version which was drafted in 2008, and in its revision in 2012. The Coalition is actively involved in all stages of the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Serbia, by intensive lobbying that child rights and issues of importance to children are represented in this process in proper amount. Results of the monitoring process of the Coalition are used in the process of preparing a Report on the progress in the process of joining the European Union.
Since the beginning of working together, the Coalition continually improves and expands capacities for monitoring child rights through the regular semi-annual trainings on specific and topical issues relevant for the respective moment. This process is important not only in terms of improving reporting to international bodies, it is important for the planning activities of the Coalition and its members because on the results of monitoring based are advocacy (lobbying) actions of the Coalition and members’ project activities.
Participation in processes that improve child rights
In the previous period the Coalition has taken a number of activities by which it got included in the current processes in the country. Representatives of the Child Rights Centre and the Coalition participated in the processes of preparing a large number of strategic documents, amendments to the relevant legislation, the public hearing on the first Draft Law on the Rights of the Child, have lobbied for the signing and later for ratification of the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Communications Procedure, and supported a number of other important initiatives.