Norwegian chairmanship 2006-2007 features conference on the rights of children in institutions

The recommendations which laid the groundwork for the AudTrain programme.

Bjørn Bredesen chaired the expert group during the 2006-2007 Norwegian chairmanship.

Conference on the Rights of Children in Institutions

The Rights of Children in Institutions in the Region of the Baltic Sea States – Improving Child Participation, Monitoring and Post Placement Assistance agreed on a set of recommendations for the Expert Group, who later agreed it would take forward the following:

1.    Support to young persons leaving institutions – development of networks where NGOs, state agencies, local and national authorities and other actors may share programme designs, results and best practices in the field of support to young persons leaving care. Action: commission a mapping of programmes in the region to create a foundation for exchange and development of assistance measures in the field.

2.    Monitoring of institutions – monitoring care to respond to the responsibility of caring for children in out-of-home placement, to include the Council of Europe Recommendation (2005)5 and other international recommendations, ensuring also that children are heard in the development of the monitoring of institutions. Action: a.) develop a plan for a training, through which monitoring skills should be developed, including provisions on how children themselves should be included and their rights respected, and; b.) implement a pilot training, using the developed plan, including teams of monitoring staff from countries in the region.

Held 14-15 November 2006 in Stockholm, the conference gathered 48 representatives from 14 countries. The conference was organised by the Expert Group in cooperation with the Swedish Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Swedish Presidency of the CBSS. It was funded by the SIDA Baltic Sea Unit and the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

Expert Group meetings

Copenhagen, Denmark, October 2006 – Hosted by the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs The meeting elaborated on the upcoming Conference on the Rights of Children in Institutions, including the agenda, participation, potential outcomes, and follow-up actions. The programme on unaccompanied and trafficked children was also discussed.

Lillehammer, Norway, April 2007 – Hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality. The meeting discussed outcomes from the Conference on the Rights of Children in Institutions. The meeting also discussed the continued work under the programme on unaccompanied and trafficked children. Ms Sofia Ekfeldt Nyman briefed the group on the work of the newly formed CBSS Task Force Against Human Trafficking in Human Beings, and joint initiatives between the two groups were discussed.

Preparatory meetings

In addition to the Expert Group meetings, a series of expert level meetings were arranged to prepare the Conference on the Rights of Children in Institutions.

A meeting in Klaekken, Norway prepared recommendations into how monitoring could be used to ensure the protection of the rights of children in institutions. This meeting and a background report was made possible with funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality.

A meeting in Moscow ensured that different concerns of all CBSS Member States were considered within the agenda.

National Contact Points on Unaccompanied and Trafficked children

The 4th meeting of the National Contact Points was held in Warsaw. Discussions included: the demand for more training, and also to disseminate tools and training nationally in a more systematic way; child-friendly procedures for witnesses and young offenders; considerations for returns to countries of origin; early identification of child victims of trafficking for exploitation; the prospect of setting regional standards for returns to countries of origin; establishing the concept of a National Contact Point nationally in order to facilitate coordination of efforts relating to child trafficking. The Nordic Council of Ministers project on prevention of trafficking of girls into prostitution was introduced to the meeting, thus establishing links with ongoing work in both organisations.

The 4th Meeting of National Contact Points gathered 44 National Contact Points, National Coordinators and experts from 12 countries in the region plus experts from international organisations. It was funded by the SIDA Baltic Sea Unit and the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality and organised in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw.

The Child Centre website

The website had seen a continued yet slowed increase in visitors, with an average of 800 daily unique visitors. It was assessed by the Expert Group as a continuously useful instrument to publish valuable information on projects and publications in the region on the topic of children at risk. At this time, the media monitoring contract was not continued due to low value added.

The secure part of the site, allowing for registered users to post questions or comments that only other registered users can access was no longer in use. By this time, email lists had become the norm. The Expert Group assessed that logging into an additional service that you don’t already use daily was thus not desirable any longer. The main function of the secure part of the website has been for sending group emails to all registered users in any given country.

The Northern Dimension Partnership on Public Health and Social Wellbeing

As of 2005, the CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk was named as an Expert Group within the Northern Dimension Partnership on Health and Social Wellbeing (NDPHS). The title of this association was renamed to Associated Expert Group during 2006. The Head of the Children at Risk Unit at the CBSS was actively taking part in the work on healthy lifestyles and also alcohol abuse.

Cooperation with the European Union

During this chairmanship, the Head of Unit visited the newly appointed European Commission Coordinator for the Rights of the Child, and took part in the first European Forum on the Rights of the Child. The first forum meeting discussed the form of future fora and how best to address the issue of cyber enticement of children.

CBSS Task Force Against Trafficking in Human Beings

During the Swedish presidency of the CBSS (editors note: at this time, the CBSS presidency and Expert Group chairmanship was not synced) the Nordic Baltic Task Force Against Trafficking in Human Beings formally became an entity of the CBSS activities, with activities widening to include Germany, Poland and Russia.

Plans for the TF-THB were presented at the Expert Group meeting in Lillehammer. The two groups planned for an integration of some of their respective work, for example, with TF-THB being invited to take part in the evaluation of the Comprehensive Assistance to Children Victims of Trafficking project.