The Child Rights Centre is an association of citizens established in 1997 with the main aim of implementing child rights in Serbia in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The main course of action of the Centre is aimed at creating a favourable institutional, legislative and strategic framework for the full achievement of child rights in Serbia through activities focused on the introduction and implementation of laws, policies and practices that contribute to the advancement of the well-being of children, protection of their rights and their full participation in society.
Child Rights Centre Establishment
The Child Rights Centre was born from the idea of individuals, representatives of non-governmental organizations Save the Children UK, Belgrade Centre for Human Rights and the Committee for the Children Protection of Children’s Friends of Serbia. Representatives of these organizations – Kevin Byrne, Nevena Vučkovic Šahović and late Mirjana Pešić – with the help of an independent associate Jasmina Grdanički, have been working for six months on the establishment of the Centre. During those six months a plan of development and the organization of work have been created, program activities were set, providing funds for the operation was planned, as well as the proposal for the founding documents, including the Statute of the organization.
Constituent Assembly was held in Belgrade on 23 February 1997 with the presence of the founding members: Nevena Vuckovic Sahović, Ph.D., Biljana Brankovic, Marija Draškić, Ph.D., Jasmina Grdanički, M.A., Marina Janjic-Komar, Ph.D., Nada Korac , Ph.D., Svetlana Krivokapić, Tamara Lukšić-Orlandić, Mirjana Obretković, Ph.D., Ljubomir Pejaković, Mirjana Pesic Ph.D., Ruzica Rosandiç, Ph.D., Dragan Todorovic.
In its 25-year long history, the Centre has gone through many different phases, including that of engaging in humanitarian activities in emergency situations through support programmes to the most vulnerable groups of children (collecting material aid for children in social and health institutions and carrying out programmes of emergency psychosocial assistance to refugee children) in its first years of existence, at the time of great social upheavals. Nevertheless, besides the many projects involving direct work with children, the main course of activity was and still is focused on creating a favourable social and legal framework for a full implementation of child rights in Serbia through activities focused on the adoption and implementation of laws, policies and practice enabling the promotion of the wellbeing of the child, the protection of their rights and their full participation in society.
To that end, a large number of activities focused on informing, education and research was developed, including the laying of the foundations for child rights monitoring in Serbia. In addition, for many years the Centre has been an active participant in the reform of the legislation in the domain of child rights, social protection, education and the judicial system.
The Centre’s determination to enable active participation of children in addressing the issues of importance for their rights resulted in the establishment of a group of children and youth.
The vision of the Centre is society in which children and youth grow up in a healthy and safe environment with equal opportunities.
In order to realise its vision, the Centre continually works on the improvement of quality in all areas of activity. The Centre strives to be recognised by its users, partners and the public as an organisation of value-oriented and competent professionals committed to children’s wellbeing.
In its everyday work, the Centre aims to set the highest standards of work and results, both for itself and for the social protagonists responsible for the implementation of child rights in Serbia. The Centre therefore continues to see itself in the future as a team oriented towards a continual development and professional enhancement of its staff and co-workers.
The mission of the Centre is to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child through the promotion of the rights of the child, public advocacy, research, education and participation of children.
The Centre implements its mission primarily in the Republic of Serbia, but also promotes child rights in the Balkan region and establishes links with similar organisations and institutions in Europe and the world.
Key Results Achieved So Far
- Monitoring and Reporting on the Situation of Child Rights in the Republic of Serbia – In order to enable comprehensive and continual 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. So far, we have successfully developed indicators for some specific domains or their parts. Based on these indicators, we have conducted research, publicised their results and compiled independent comprehensive reports on the situation of child rights in our country. A result of this process, the first Alternative Reports to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, compiled by the Child Rights Monitoring Coalition which was established at the initiative of the Centre in 2007, were presented before the Committee for the Rights of the Child.
The Centre pays special attention to children’s participation in the process of monitoring and reporting on the situation of child rights. The results of this process include the preparation and presentation of the children report before the Committee for the Rights of the Child.
- Research – The Centre attaches great importance to research and strives to begin the realisation of each project with this important phase. We have been planning the concrete steps in the implementation of projects on the basis of qualitative and quantitative results of our research, including the design and realisation of the research itself and, whenever it was possible, including children. The results of all research projects conducted by the Centre so far are available to the professional public on the Centre’s website and through printed publications (the results of 12 research projects have been printed).
- Policy Making – In our work, we have always supported the idea that Serbia should have a serious, separate long-term policy plan in the domain of child rights. In the past ten years, as active members of state organs’ expert teams and independent institutions, we had the opportunity to take part in shaping the general principles and courses of reform, particularly in some specific directions of legal reforms (juvenile justice system, social and health protection system, education system, youth and sport).
- Influence in changes of the Legislation – The Centre has been monitoring and analysing the situation in the domain of legislation and has continually proposed changes of regulations. In this activity, we are guided by the existing standards of the international law and the best solutions in the national legislations of some countries. In late 2010, we prepared a comprehensive document – Analysis of the Legislation in the Republic of Serbia from the Aspect of Child Rights. The purpose of the analysis is to be used as reference in the adoption of new and amendment of existing laws and policies and is therefore continually updated. In past years, representatives of the Centre took direct participation as members of several work groups for drafting legal solutions relevant for the implementation of child rights.
- Lobbying – From its establishment, lobbying has been an activity of the Centre, not as an aim in itself, but as an integral part of other activities. The specific target group of this activity are politicians, officials in state organs, professionals in services and institutions and the like. In the past five years, we have had support from the Child Rights Monitoring Coalition in our lobbying activities. The main results of this process are visible in the adoption or the beginning of the drafting and amending of laws relevant for child rights, strategic documents, protocols regulating specific areas relevant for the implementation of child rights, establishment of governmental and parliamentary bodies (Child Rights Council of the RS Government, Child Rights Committee of the National Assembly of the RS).
- Campaigns – in addition to our work directly targeting policy makers, professionals in various fields and children themselves, we have been addressing the general public through various forms of media. Depending on the concrete theme or issue, sometimes this includes only public statements, interviews in the press, guest appearances in TV and radio programmes – as part of the general response of the society to a specific situation. Likewise, we take active participation in joint campaigns of the civil society, for example, marking the anniversaries of the adoption of international documents in the domain of human rights, particularly that of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, we organised a coordinated and wide-spread, specifically targeted campaign, to mark the international day for the prevention of abuse. In cooperation with a group of international and national civil society organisations, we initiated a campaign to end corporal punishment of children under the slogan: Always Graceful – Never Forceful (For a Childhood without Punishment, a Life without Violence).
- Development of the Civil Society, Cooperation and Networking – Through the implementation of its programme activities, the Centre has been continually supporting and empowering civil society organisations focused exclusively or partly on the implementation of child rights and monitoring and reporting in this domain. In this regard, the most important result was the establishment of a functional Child Rights Monitoring Coalition. In 2011, the Centre became a member of Eurochild and the Network of Organisations for Children in Serbia – MODS.
- Development of Child Participation – As a result of continual monitoring of the success and impact of completed activities, child participation has a status of a principle in the work of our organisation and represents one of the main features of our activity. The Centre implements all of its activities in cooperation with children or for children. Through its work, the Centre provides support to independent and self-organised child and youth groups, such as the continual support offered to the group of children and youth at the Children’s Information and Cultural Service (DX), which has been active in the Centre’s programme activities since its establishment and Club for Healthy Changes (Club gathers children and youth with disabilities).
- Education for Child Rights – From the first day of operation, the Centre was intent on facilitating the dissemination of knowledge in the domain of child rights through creating and implementing educational packages in the domain of child rights. So far, the Centre has completed more than 1,500 training sessions (seminars for the present and future professionals, training for trainers in the domain of child rights and seminars for children and youth).
- Informing in the Domain of Child Rights – The Centre’s library contributes to continual informing and education of university students, professionals and wider public on issues relevant for the domain of child rights. In 2012 the Child Rights Centre established the e-bulletin which is sent quarterly in Serbian and yearly in English. The Centre’s website in Serbian and English offers an overview of programme activities of the Centre, links to other similar organisations and national and international documents, and contributes to the Centre’s visibility in the professional and general public. From its establishment till today, the Centre has published more than 100 titles (reports, research results, handbooks, authors’ books, documents, brochures, bulletins).
In April 2015 the Child Rights Centre obtained a certificate for the quality management system under the standard SRPS ISO 9001:2008 for the volume of certification Promotion, improvement and protection of child rights – During the process of establishing the Quality management system ISO 9001:2008, through improving all processes in organisaton’s performance, the Child Rights Centre harmonised its work with this standard. In this way the Centre additionally ensured its partner role in cooperation with various partners/donours. Constant improvement of the Quality management system is our determination and we are committed to continual review of our work, improvement of realisation of our activities and our results, because quality is our goal.
Child Safeguarding Policy with Code of Conduct