UNICEF Executive Board focus on vulnerable children in EuropeBy Chris Niles
NEW YORK, USA, 13 September 2011 - UNICEF’s cooperation with the Council of Europe took centre stage at the UNICEF Executive Board today. In a special focus session, the deputy secretary general of the Council of Europe presented the organization’s efforts in supporting policies to protect vulnerable children and in strengthening its partnership with UNICEF.
“Our two organizations share the same values, and the vision of a world fit for children,” said Council of Europe Deputy Secretary-General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio. “The Council of Europe can help UNICEF achieve its mission through global advocacy and actions on the ground.”
Europe’s child welfare challenges include protecting Roma from poverty and discrimination, ensuring that Roma children placed in institutions are treated fairly, supporting those with HIV and protecting migrants and the internally displaced.
In 2006 the Council implemented a programme, “Building a Europe for and with Children,” and has been closely working with UNICEF in its implementation and in 2007 the two organizations signed a joint declaration, which outlines ways they can work together on a range of issues.
Promoting ratification worldwide
Ms. de Boer-Buquicchio said its child-friendly policies could benefit all children, not just those in Europe.
“Most of the challenges the Council of Europe is addressing are worldwide challenges,” she said. “The tools we are using are universal tools.” She added that no continent can afford to ignore the needs of others in the world.
Ms. de Boer-Buquicchio went on to cite as an example the Lanzarote Convention, a far-reaching agreement which aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and bring its perpetrators to justice.
“This Convention is open to any country in the world, and we are joining hands with the UN family together to promote the ratification worldwide so we can put an end to this scourge affecting millions of children,” she stressed.
Emphasis on equity
UNICEF Regional Director Steven Allen, whose CEE/CIS region works closely with the Council, praised the emphasis it places on protecting the most vulnerable children. He said Council’s new Strategy on the Rights of the Child for 2012-2015 will help promote UNICEF’s emphasis on equity.
“The Council of Europe, along with the European Union under its broad agenda on social inclusion, are key regional organizations that are well placed to support UNICEF’s efforts to reach the most vulnerable children, and those left behind,” he said. “Bringing together the strengths of our two organizations will produce sure winners—children in Europe, and children in other regions.”