ChildPact, the Regional Coalition for Child Protection in the Wider Black Sea Area, hosted a special panel at the Black Sea NGO Forum (Bucharest, 4-6 September 2013).
Government officials from six ChildPact countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Serbia) and civil society representatives discussed ChildPact’s proposal to build a Regional Cooperation Mechanism for Child Protection in our region and agreed that regional cooperation is an important factor in achieving the next level of progress in child protection reforms.
Codrin Scutaru, Secretary of State in the Romanian Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Elderly opened the panel, providing an overview of some recent developments in the Romanian system of child protection. He acknowledged the partnership between government and NGOs: “I am very concerned about child poverty, the most dangerous kind of poverty. NGO’s have given us models for child protection. The state has a duty to find adequate answers to our lessons in child protection”.
Turid Heiberg, Head of Children’s Unit at the Council of Baltic Sea States, presented cooperation mechanisms for child protection from other regions of the world (South Asian Initiative to End Violence against Children and the Children’s Unit at the Council of Baltic Sea States), based on her direct experience in creating and managing these mechanisms.
Vladimir Pesic, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy of Serbia stated that exchanging experience and sharing the best practices is of key importance for our region: “We should establish bi and multilateral cooperation for child protection in our countries.”
Davit Hakobyan, Advisor to the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues from Armenia stated: “Our current reforms are based on experiences we receive from other countries. These meetings allow us to make use of instruments to fight for child protection. All these problems have the same roots in our countries. Only if we cooperate in the region will we be able to address them properly.”
Petya Dimitrova, State expert, State Child Policy Directorate, State Agency for Child Protection in Bulgaria stated: “Child poverty remains a critic issue. When we talk about regional cooperation, we would like to see child poverty as a focus. Bulgaria is ready to discuss the mechanism for cooperation.”
At the end of the event, the “Bucharest Statement” to express the commitment and determination of involved stakeholders in taking some co-ordinated actions towards the strengthening of regional cooperation for child protection was adopted.
You can read the Bucharest statement below.
5 September 2013
We, the participants of the Black Sea NGO Forum sub-group on regional cooperation for child protection, coming from positions in government and civil society,
Recognize the following:
Children remain among the most socially and economically vulnerable groups within the wider Black Sea Region. Millions of children are in situations of hunger, violence, labor, trafficking, unaccompanied living, life on the street and institutional care.
Governments and civil society have worked to build systems of care and protection for the most vulnerable children, but more must be done to ensure protection of the next generation; Governments and aligned stakeholders have made significant progress to build legal frameworks and policies that protect the human rights of children. Emerging laws attest to the shift from highly centralized welfare institutions (orphanages) that removed children from families to decentralized community based models (day care, foster care, respite care) that protect children within families as much as possible. In correspondence to the legal shift, NGOs, donors and governments have tested different varieties and ideas for community based services to help protect and care for children of all kinds of vulnerability. Best practices within the region are known and continue to improve based on context, experience and need.
However, given the complexity of interventions needed for real child protection and welfare reform, every government in the region faces the same challenge; to derive the right combination of intervention and action.
Progressive and innovative policy and programming tools are needed to move reform efforts to the next step. Such action demands a pooling of great minds, leadership and resources.
Declare the following:
We welcome coordinated action and steps towards strengthening regional cooperation for child protection in the wider Black Sea Region.
Regional cooperation for child protection can manifestly change the lives of the most vulnerable children in the region. Regional cooperation provides a platform to share scare resources and talent, leverage our lessons into successes, and create a new level of political will for reform.
We welcome high level political resolve towards this outcome and verify our ownership and engagement to make this a reality. We have a duty to find and implement solutions that protect our children.
Sign ChildPact’s petition addressed to BSEC member states and to the European Union aimed at gathering support for the creation of a regional cooperation mechanism for child protection in the wider Black Sea Area.