The Group of Parliamentarians “Friends of Children” invest in strengthening their role as child rights champions
Albania needs a nationwide reflection and response from all actors to enable the effective protection of every child at risk
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Tirana, June 10, 2022 – International partners in Albania see every member of Parliament as a human rights defender. Established in 2013 as a voluntary group, the “Friends of Children” is a cross-party effort of parliamentarians coming together to raise the profile of children’s rights in Parliament. Newly constituted with the membership resulting from the elections of 2021, the members, under the leadership of the Parliament Speaker Lindita Nikolla meet with UNICEF, OSCE, and Save the Children to explore the de jure and de facto implementation challenges of children in Albania and to develop a Plan of Action for the “Friends of Children”.
In the last four years, the Friends of the Children Parliamentary Group has played a crucial role in the adoption of new legislation on the protection of children. Two Resolutions on Children, elimination of legal gaps on child registration leading to statelessness, adoption of a more flexible cash assistance scheme, the Universal Salt Iodization Law, stronger legal instruments against Domestic Violence, and improvements to the Budget Law are among the statutes adopted. The “Friends of Children” were instrumental in ensuring public accountability for the fulfillment of the Agenda for Children, the submission of the national report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the fight against Domestic Violence and online abuse, and the provision of access to children to health and education during the pandemics.
Despite major advances in the legal framework, Albania needs a nationwide reflection and response from all actors to enable the effective protection of every child at risk. The Convention on the Rights of the Child stands at a crossroads. It is time to choose the path towards fully realizing its vision. New attitudes with new understanding are needed. Hence, the former members of the “Friends of Children” are passing the baton to the newly elected members who need to widen their exposure to children’s rights issues, in order to fully play their role. This discussion, exchange, and planning session help the members of Parliament to advocate for investment in children, as a basis for sustainable development, as well as to build coalitions for child rights and interests.
Special guests share their experience with the new “Friends of Children”. Prof. Vasilika Hysi, former Deputy Speaker of the Albanian Parliament provides information on the role and the legacy of the previous legislature “Friends of Children”. Justice Renate Winter, a former Chair of the Committee on the Right of the Child discusses with them the specific actions Parliamentarians can take to make use of the Convention on the Rights of the Child - an international standard and a tool for parliamentarians to advance the rights of the child. Executive Director of Save the Children, Anila Meço give a panorama of child rights challenges in Albania and with UNICEF help the “Friends of Children” reflect these in their Action Plan.
The event is greeted by Fiona McCluney, UN Resident Coordinator, Roberto de Bernardi, UNICEF Representative, and Ambassador Vincenzo Del Monaco, Head of OSCE.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/albania.
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