Mr. Taalas introduced the event, discussing the need to guarantee children’s rights to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Ms. Samardzic-Markovic stressed the need to guarantee that children are heard and understood. Evidence has proven that adults “acting in best interest of the child” have often failed. Critics argue that: children lack competence/experience to participate, children must learn responsibility before giving them rights, listening to children will cause lack of respect for authority; but, Ms. Samardzic-Markovic stated that these arguments are incorrect. Adults in powerful positions over children exploit that power. Children’s interests are disregarded and excluded in public policy. This exclusion is caused by adult prejudices, poor listening, minimal information being provided to the child, and intimidating formal settings that hamper a child’s involvement. To maintain democratic status, public policy should inform and acknowledge children participation.
An assessment tool needs to be designed to evaluate the progress of ensuring child participation within governmental policy. Ms. Koskelo addresses the CRC’s legal binds to regard and protect children as individuals. She also states children “cannot bear being left alone” and highlights the need to support children without shifting adult responsibilities onto them. Ms. Koskelo also addressed the difficulties of child-abuse court proceedings and mentions that many child-victims are often left unnoticed. Ms. Pais states that children have two goals: education that empowers them and a world with security, safety, and peace. She emphasized the need for child-friendly versions of important documents to properly inform children. Ms. Sandberg mentions that adults should be more open to the medias children choose to express themselves with. She believes in educating children about the power and influence of their rights. The conference concluded with a presentation on youth outreach through technology by youth representatives of RedNATIC, a Latin American NGO.
Meeting: Event on “Guaranteeing children’s right to participate: the big step needed” (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Finland, the Council of Europe and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children)
Location/Date: Wednesday, November 19th; Conference Room 7, United Nations Headquarters.
Speakers: Mr. Janne Taalas, Moderator and Director of Policy Planning and Research at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland; Ms. Snezana Samardzic-Markovic, Director General of Democracy at the Council of Europe; Ms. Pauliine Koskelo, President of the Supreme Court of Finland; Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG); Ms. Kirsten Sandberg, Chair of the Government of Norway to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Pro-Dean for Education of the Faculty of Law; Jorge Joaquin Laslop Yanez, Gal Rozic, and Marcela Rut Czarny, Latin America Network of Children and Adolescents on ICTs (RedNATIC)
Written By WIT Representatives: Ellie Guner and Brian Lee
Edited By WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon