Child rights supersede party politics
This is the conclusion of a two-day consultation on the role of parliaments in promoting child rights
Skopje, 20-21 September 2010 - Parliamentarians from the German Bundestag and the Serbian National Assembly joined local members of parliament in a two-day consultation on the Role of Parliaments in Monitoring and Promoting Child Rights. Representing different political parties, all MPs present at the consultation, regardless of their political background agreed that parliaments could and should do more to advance children’s rights.
“Parliaments can and must have a very active and dedicated role,” said Trajko Veljanoski, President of the Assembly. “Besides passing laws and other acts, parliaments also have the task to carry out supervision over the implementation and execution of laws, and it is here they should be more active and vigilant,” continued Mr. Veljanoski
UNICEF convened the consultation to help local parliamentarians take stock of the situation of children in the country, and to enhance their skills in shaping and enforcing laws that help create protective environments for children. Participants also focused attention on issues associated with the allocation of resources to sectors of relevance to children; as well as the role of parliamentarians in holding governments accountable to children.
“Real and positive change for children cannot be sustained if the changes are not embedded in law, and if these same laws are not fully implemented,” said Kirsi Madi, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS).
The consultation was also used to examine the feasibly of establishing a permanent parliamentary standing committee dedicated to children and children’s issues within the Assembly. As the world’s first parliamentary body dedicated to representing children’s interests in the work of a national parliament, the Bundestag Commission for Children’s Concerns was identified as a possible model. Participants also heard from the Serbian Parliamentarian Committee on Children, a group that has recently transformed from an informal to a permanent body, as well as from local parliamentarians.
The message that child rights priorities trump party politics was consistently reiterated in the opening remarks, presentations, and ensuing discussions. German MP Katia Dörner, a member of the Bundestag Commission for Children’s Concerns captured the essence of the message by emphasizing Article 3 of the Convention on the rights of the Child, which seeks to guarantee the best interest of the child receives primary consideration in all policy matters.
“The interests of children, therefore, bear special weight. And when these interests are considered, the fraction limitations and party norms should play a subordinate role in the actions taken in parliament. This, to my mind, is the basis of the principle of consensus in the [Bundestag] Children’s Committee,” said MP Dörner.
The consultation was one of a series of activities organised with UNICEF support as part of its ongoing cooperation with the Assembly. Other activities planned for the coming months includes a series of public hearings and field visits on important issues such as domestic legislation and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; violence in schools and juvenile justice.
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