UNICEF Serbia holds Mid-Term Review conference in Belgrade
BELGRADE, 22 October 2013 - A Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the UNICEF - Government of Serbia Programme of Cooperation (2011 – 2015) was held today in Belgrade.
The high-level conference gathered ministers and state secretaries of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, representatives of the European Union Delegation, participants from relevant governmental institutions and civil society, as well as from independent human rights monitoring bodies. The gathering discussed progress towards realizing the planned results for children and recognizing challenges and possibilities for finding best solutions for every child, especially those children who are most invisible and voiceless.
The opening remarks on the progress for children in Serbia were given by UNICEF Deputy Regional Director Kirsi Madi. She said that within Central and Eastern Europe Serbia was “recognized for its stamina and continuity in social sector reforms, which have now spanned a good 10 years. And these reforms are delivering concrete results for children’s lives.” She praised Serbia’s reforms in different sectors, stressing that, for example, “Serbia’s exemplary reforms to enable every child to grow up in a family environment are paving the way for the reforms in many other countries, and we know that Serbian experts are in high demand, from as far away as Kyrgyzstan to neighbouring Montenegro. Mechanisms established by the Serbian health system are being recognized by many countries of the region as good practice in reaching the most vulnerable families with quality health care. And the excellent legal framework for education – which is rights-based and fully inclusive – is an inspiration for many in the region.”
The Serbian Ministers of Health and Youth and Sports, as well as the state secretaries of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and Labour, Employment and Social Policy presented the Government perspectives on progress and priorities for children and partnership with UNICEF.
The Head of Political Section of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Mr. Luca Bianconi, reminded the gathering of how to capitalize on the EU accession process to advance children’s rights in Serbia, recalling that “children’s rights are part of the Acquis”(specifically Chapters 23 and 24).
UNICEF Area Representative Judita Reichenberg updated on the situation of children in Serbia, reflected on achievements of the past years, and highlight remaining challenges and the general future directions of UNICEF programmes. “Looking at our cooperation frame and strategic focus at this mid-point of the country programme, we can reconfirm our unweaving commitment to continue to focus on social inclusion of the most vulnerable children and families, with additional attention to young children and to adolescents at risk. We gladly reconfirm our commitment to be an active partner, or leader or broker or facilitator, in this process – which ever role we will jointly identify as the most effective support we can provide for the firm steps towards full realization of children’s rights”, she said.
The Child Rights Centre NGO representative gave an overview from perspective of a child rights civil society organization what progress they saw in realisation of child rights over the past few years, what the key challenges were and what the vision for the role of society was in advancing children’s rights with UNICEF’s support.
Ms. Marina Ivanovic, Head of Human Rights Department at Ministry of Foreign Affairs talked about the role of UNICEF in middle income countries and highlighted that “Serbia is committed to implement human rights treaties, especially CRC and EU accession as a national priority”. She stressed the importance of partnership in that process.