On 12 October 2022 in Belgrade, the Child Rights Centre held the first in a series of dialogues on the rights of the child entitled “Child-friendly Serbia” as part of the project Strengthening the capacities of civil society organisations to contribute to the fulfilment of Serbia’s human dimension commitments in the field of the rights of the child, financially supported by the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
The dialogue brought together representatives of competent institutions (Committee on the Rights of the Child of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia; Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue; Ministry of Family Welfare and Demography; Judicial Academy; Provincial Ombudsman; Protector of Citizens; Commissioner for Protection of Equality), civil society organisations (members of the Coalition for Monitoring the Rights of the Child and the Platform of Organizations for Cooperation with UN Human Rights Mechanisms, MODS and other organisations operating in the field of child rights), international organisations/agencies (UNICEF, OSCE, Save the Children) and university professors.
The dialogue provided an opportunity to look back at what had been done in the Republic of Serbia to establish the infrastructure for the implementation of child rights and what legislative and administrative measures were being implemented. Legislative and administrative measures were discussed in two separate panels. Considering the complexity and scope of this topic, the first panel focused on the adoption of the law on the rights of the child, while the second panel focused on the establishment of an independent institution for the protection of the rights of the child and education in this field. The selection of topics for the dialogue was based on the holistic approach to the rights of the child and the general measures of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a body that supervises the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the state should implement. The selected topics indicated the connection with all other measures, which all together constitute the necessary infrastructure for the exercise of child rights.
Bearing in mind that the rights of the child are scattered in over 80 legal texts, the participants agreed that the adoption of a comprehensive Law on the Rights of the Child would align the existing legal texts with the ratified international treaties. The participants in the dialogue also pointed out that since 2016 Serbia had lacked a unified and coordinated strategic policy in the field of child rights, because the previous National Action Plan for Children had been valid until 2015. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen the function of the Council for Child Rights of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, as a multi-sector coordination body, and to provide adequate human, technical and financial resources for its efficient and continuous operation. The term of the Council members expired in April, and the new convocation is expected only after the formation of the Government. On several occasions, the participants stressed the key importance of continuous education and dissemination of information about child rights at all levels – from the officials of relevant institutions and courts to parents and children at all levels of education.
Although some progress has been made in this area, it is necessary to invest additional efforts in order to continuously work on exercising the rights of the child, in accordance with the rights guaranteed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The participants agreed that the full realisation of child rights required the improved infrastructure for their protection and realisation and a review of the effectiveness of general measures for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Serbia.
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