Historical

The CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk is a unique example of international cooperation. In 1998, the CBSS Heads of Government of the member states initiated regional activities on children’s rights as the reverberations of two key events came together in synergy: the atmosphere of regional cooperation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the international drive to improve the situation for children after the 1996 World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

The history below uses the exact terminology as in the historical documents for the group. The Expert Group has been called many things previously, including a working group, a reference group, and a special group. Acronyms for the group have included the EGCC and WGCC. The Child Centre was called an IT tool, a homepage, a website, a project, and more.

1996

In 1996, the world was shocked by the revelations from the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, convened on the initiative of the Swedish Government. This Congress launched a global discussion about the evidence and scope of the atrocity – sexual and otherwise – of violence against children. Despite global efforts, sexual abuse and violence against children is still pervasive. In all countries and regions, across all societies, children are exploited in numerous ways – starting from infancy and at all ages. The world congress coincided with the Swedish Presidency of the CBSS. The CBSS Ombudsman for Democracy and Human rights wrote a letter asking the Swedish Foreign Minister to put the issue of sexually exploited children on the agenda for regional cooperation.

Read more

1997

In Riga in July 1997, the CBSS Foreign Ministers decided the organisation should work in the field of sexual abuse, violence in the media, and the situation of asylum-seeking minors. Two months later, in September, the CBSS Committee of Senior officials decided that the CBSS should implement the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as in response to the May 1997 report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Read more

January 1998

In January 1998 the CBSS launched its Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Baltic Sea Region. At the CBSS Summit in Riga in January 1998, the Prime Ministers of the CBSS proposed that the Presidency of the CBSS organise the continued work in this field in accordance with the report. It resulted in initiatives to arrange seminars with a view to raising the awareness of the issue among the relevant decision-makers (police and public prosecutors, social and health services, schools, media, etc.).

Read more

September 1998

Sweden, Norway, and Estonia organised the first conference on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Baltic Sea Region in Tallinn in September 1998. The meeting emphasised the importance of multidisciplinary work and supported a stronger regional collaboration on the issue as well as to broaden the mandate to include children at risk in regional collaboration. Sweden and others wanted to target all sexual exploitation of children, not just commercial. The term ‘Children at…

Read more

November 1998

The idea for an IT project first appeared during 1998. This became the now-retired “Child Centre” website, and was a key development in the establishment of the Expert Group. During November 1998, the CBSS Working Group on Democratic Institutions discussed following up the Tallinn conference and the IT project idea. At the meeting, the Commissioner [of the CBSS] referred to his earlier proposal to establish national contact-points on children’s issues in all CBSS member states. The contact-points would have as their primary goal to ensure that all CBSS countries continue to prioritise international co-operation on establishing better conditions for children. In order to ensure the political backing of the project members of the contact-points should include senior officials.

Read more

March 1999

A ministerial meeting “Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region” was held in Stockholm on 17 March 1999 as a follow-up event a CBSS conference held in Tallinn. The Swedish Minister for Social Affairs set up a special group for children at risk in the Baltic Sea Region in cooperation with the Norwegian Ministry for Children and Family Affairs. This group of four…

Read more

April 1999

The first meeting on the establishment of an IT-Network concerning Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region was held in Stockholm in April 1999, which was attended by CBSS staff. A follow-up meeting in Visby in 1999 agreed on the initial plan for the IT-network, which would tie the member states together through a single server. The most…

Read more

June 1999

A CBSS Committee of Senior Officials annual report from June 1999 notes “The Swedish Special Group for Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region has also continued its work as a focal point for regional co-operation.”

Read more

November 1999

The Swedish Special Group for Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region, together with the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Family Affairs, started the work to create a home-page on the internet called ‘The Child centre for Children at Risk in the Baltic Region’. With the concept of becoming a ‘Barnahus on the internet,’ the aim of the IT project is to raise the level of knowledge about how to prevent the abuse of children, to protect children at risk and to rehabilitate children who have been neglected, physically or sexually abused.

Read more

March 2000

The restructuring of the CBSS Secretariat prompted the discussion on the integration of the work on Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region into the CBSS. An ad-hoc meeting was held in Stockholm in March 2000 to discuss priorities for future initiatives on children at risk. This meeting clarified that there was political support from all member states to continue the work.

Read more

April 2000

The CBSS Heads of Government underlined their concern for children at risk in the Baltic Sea Region. Recommended steps in the Chairman’s Conclusions included: all regional, governmental and multilateral co-operation should come within the CBSS secretariat. This applies then to the Children at Risk project. intensify efforts to enforce a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach towards children at risk in the Baltic Sea region, including, inter alia, initiatives at the local level, and to further develop the Child Centre for Children at Risk IT network for intergovernmental exchange of information and experiences in the area of child welfare and protection. promote co-operation between NGOs and authorities involved in children’s issues. continue the co-operation on promoting active participation of young people in the development of democratic and pluralistic societies.

Read more

June 2000

The Reference Group met for the first time, composed of Senior Officials representing their respective countries and who have been mandated to contribute to the decision making on future strategic and policy initiatives on Children at Risk met in Oslo 15-16 June 2000. The meeting discussed and confirmed a priority paper. The goal was a coordinated and multidisciplinary approach to work in the field of children at risk and would also allow for the further development of the IT network. The Swedish Group would take responsibility for the preparatory work involved in establishing a budget for a unit at the CBSS Secretariat.

Read more

September 2000

The first meetings of the professional groups who would oversee the adoption and success of childcentre.info in their national settings met for the first time to discuss their roles and responsibilities, and to develop their working methods. This included a meeting of the National Co-ordinators, who discussed the structuring and planning the IT Network for Children at Risk in the Baltic Sea Region. It also included a meeting…

Read more

February 2001

February 2001

ChildCentre.info is launched.

Read more

February 2001

A memo from a CBSS Secretariat staffer to the Secretariat reports on the Meeting of the Reference Group on Children at Risk in Riga 5-6 February 2001, where the group agreed to seek its integration into the CBSS. The chair of the meeting said, “… politically, the Project had been a CBSS endeavour since the very beginning when the Prime Ministers decided to launch it at their Riga Summit in 1998. The Establishment of the Reference Group had further consolidated the Baltic Sea nature of the project.” The term “Project” here refers to the “Children at Risk Project”, which at this point had become conflated with the “IT network.” The Chair also said “… the Reference Group had been created as a technical structure for the purpose of designing and launching the “Cyber House” Project. As the work progressed, the scope of the Group’s responsibilities had widened, which was reflected i.a. in the Bergen CBSS Communique.” The referenced June 2000 CBSS Foreign Ministers Communique “instructs the CSO and the WGDI to support the newly established…

Read more

September 2001

A September 2001 meeting of the actors developing the IT network confirmed that the “Child Centre” should become a part of the work of the CBSS Secretariat.

Read more

October 2001

In October 2001, the Ministers for Children’s Affairs in the Baltic Sea Region adopted a formal decision on the Secretariat function of the “C.A.R. Project” and the establishment of the Working Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk. In November the proposal to integrate was made to the CBSS Committee of Senior Officials, which was adopted in February 2002. The unit was staffed from March 1st until June 30th by the Swedish Ministry…

Read more

January 2002

In January 2002, the CBSS Working Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk (WGCC) met for the first time in Vilnius. There they elected the first char and vice-chair, and agreed on the Terms of Reference for the group. They next met in Reykjavik in April, where they agreed on a proposal for the first Senior Advisor and Head of Unit, who took his post on 12 June 2002.

Read more

February 2002

The CBSS Senior Officials met with the Chairman of the newly created Working Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk (WGCC). After a careful deliberation on the matter, the Senior Officials decided to accept the integration of a small unit for children’s matters into the Secretariat and authorized the Director to facilitate this process.

Read more

March 2002

The Children at Risk Unit is an integrated part of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat since 1 March 2002.

Read more

June 2002

The CBSS Heads of Government meeting noted with satisfaction the establishment of the Child Centre for IT-based exchange of information and experiences regarding children at risk and welcome the broadening of this co-operation taking into account i.a. the problem of the large number of street children, homeless children and children in social care institutions. Joint efforts are also needed to find appropriate solutions to the acute problem of trafficking in children and the increasing number of unaccompanied minors crossing the national borders within the region, their proper care, identification, repatriation and rehabilitation. In these activities, the member states will take into account the outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children held in May 2002.

Read more

December 2002

The priority paper from 2000 was updated and adopted by the Working Group in December 2002. The priorities included working against all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, protecting unaccompanied children and preventing exploitation and trafficking, protecting street children, children with antisocial and self-destructive behaviour and children in institutions.

Read more

February 2003

At the Senior Officials Meeting on Unaccompanied Children from the Region of the Baltic Sea States, held 10-11 February 2003 in Stockholm, participants discussed the issue of Interministerial and Interagency Co-operation for Improved Assessment, Care and Reintegration of Unaccompanied Children within and from the region. Read the conclusions > Read the Meeting report >

Read more

June 2003

On 1-3 June, in Helsinki, the US, Canadian and Swedish Embassies to Finland, the Finnish Government and the Council of the Baltic Sea States gathered some 150 delegates to share and improve practices, programmes and policies aimed at stopping trafficking in children. The Conference “Stop Child Trafficking – Modern Day Slavery” enjoyed the presence of several dignitaries like H.E. President Tarja Halonen of Finland, H.E. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia, H.E. Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki of Finland,…

Read more

December 2003

First meeting of the CBSS National Contact Points on Unaccompanied and Trafficked Children in the Baltic Sea Region.

Read more

2004

One of the first tasks of the Working Group was to develop the Action Plan for the cooperation for improved assessment care and reintegration of unaccompanied and trafficked children in the Region of the Baltic Sea States, which was adopted in 2004. As part of this work, the group of National Contact Points for Unaccompanied and Trafficked Children in the Baltic Sea States was established, which was eventually integrated into the Expert Group.

Read more

June 2004

The CBSS Heads of Government meeting noted with satisfaction the results obtained through the Baltic Sea Programme on unaccompanied and trafficked children, implemented by the CBSS. The training designed to fill the competence-gaps regarding care and assistance to children and young persons who are victims of trafficking is a welcomed regional addition, and will improve the care for and protection of children victims of trafficking. The Heads of Government encouraged the CBSS to pursue vigorously the task of strengthening the rights of children in residential care in the region and to raise the quality of care in institutions, in order to improve the situation for children in out-of-home care.

Read more

May 2005

On May 9 – 10 2005, the ministers responsible for children’s issues within the member countries of the Council of the Baltic Sea States met on the invitation of the Minister for Children and Family Affairs in Norway, Ms Laila Dåvöy. The meeting was organised by the Ministry for Children and Family Affairs in Norway in cooperation with the Children’s Unit at the Secretariat of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The whole cooperation on children at risk in the region was discussed and the participants listened to presentations related to the prioritised areas: Sexual exploitation of children The rights of children in institutions Unaccompanied and trafficked children The Council…

Read more

October 2006

The Ministerial Roundtable Conference on the Social Aspects of Trafficking held 31 October 2006. It was the first time where the Ministers for Social Affairs in the Nordic Countries had the opportunity to meet their colleagues from the Baltic Sea Countries to discuss the social impact of trafficking in human beings in the particular context of trafficking-related to prostitution. In the meeting, Ministers benefited from the experiences made by The Council of the Baltic States and The Northern Dimension Partnership. Read the conference statement >

Read more

2008

The mandate was expanded in 2008 towards an integrated child protection approach. At the same time, the name changed to the Expert Group for Cooperation on Children at Risk and the Expert Group (EGCC) in order to follow the standardized naming format established by the 2008 reform of the CBSS.

Read more

2013

The Child Centre website was updated substantially in 2013. By this time, the connectivity, technology and privacy foreseen in the original website had long become obsolete. A private website for the archival documents of the Expert Group was created instead, and the focus of the public website changed to promoting the work and priorities of the Expert Group.

Read more

May 2015

The Estonian Presidency of the CBSS hosts a conference on Alternative Care and Family Support, which endorsed The Tallinn Recommendations and Action Plan on Alternative Care and Family Support 2015-2020.

Read more

2016

In 2016 the name was simplified to the CBSS Expert Group on Children at Risk in conjunction with the adoption of a Terms of Reference for the group.

Read more

December 2016

The Icelandic Presidency of the CBSS in cooperation with the Central European Initiative held a conference in Stockholm which endorsed The Stockholm Conclusions on protecting migrant and asylum-seeking children.

Read more

May 2017

The Expert Group adopted its 2017-2020 Mandate and Strategy documents, along with the new internal acronym CAR, at its May 2017 meeting. The URL of the website was changed, leaving the Child Centre framework formally in the past and highlighting instead the influence of the Children at Risk Expert Group.

Read more

June 2017

The European Barnahus Movement was launched in Brussels as part of the final conference of the first phase of PROMISE. The conference advocated for child-friendly, multi-disciplinary and interagency services supporting child victims of violence. Several high-level speakers gave their support to the European Barnahus Movement, including Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, and Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children. Bragi Guðbrandsson, lead expert in…

Read more

May 2018

The CBSS in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers and Norweigan authorities held an international conference which endorsed the Oslo Conclusions on Identifying Children at Risk of Exploitation and Trafficking.

Read more

November 2018

To raise attention to the fact that it is possible to change policies, attitudes and behaviours, the Council of the Baltic Sea States organised a high-level conference on implementing the prohibition of corporal punishment. One president, several ministers, along with other high-level policy-makers and representatives from child ombudsmen´s offices, academia and international and national organizations and institutions joined to give their reflections and guidance. The conference was arranged as the final conference of the Non-violent childhoods project, co-funded by the European Union.

Read more

December 2018

On 6 December 2018, the Expert Group and stakeholders celebrated in Riga – the birthplace of the Group – the achievements of the last 20 years, honour the founding members and the work done on national, regional and international level in the field of children’s rights. At the 1998 Summit in Riga, the Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers supported CBSS initiated cooperation activities on children at risk, which firmly established the regional work and commitment to protecting children at risk under the auspices of CBSS. In 2002, the CBSS Senior Officials established the Expert Group as a formal group of the CBSS and the Children at Risk Unit as part of the Secretariat.

Read more

November 2019

The PROMISE Barnahus Network was launched in Helsinki, Finland with a ceremonial signing of the statutes and a celebration. The network is hosted by the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat.

Read more

May 2020

The Expert Group on Children at Risk adopted its 2020-2025 Mandate and Strategy.

Read more