Democracy Must Work for Children

(Ms. Mila Omcikus, the representative of the Media Education Centre will participate on the regional seminar in Tirana on Child Rights Protection within the context of the Year of Janusz Korczak)

On June 14, 2012, under the Honorary Patronage of the Spouse of the Prime Minister, Dr. Liri Berisha, the President of the Albanian Children Foundation, a seminar will be organized in Tirana, to share and discuss the experience that the Southern Europe region has accumulated, as of today, in promoting and defending the rights of children in the process of democratic changes witnessed by many countries of the region in the past two decades. The seminar is expected to become a sound confirmation of the policy-makers’ commitment to effectively convert the principle of child rights protection into tangible improvements in the lives of children, especially of the most marginalized and excluded.

The context for the seminar is provided by the commemoration, during 2012, of the 70th anniversary of the tragic death of Dr. JanuszKorczak, a prominent Polish pedagogue and pediatrician who refused, in the course of what is known as the Warsaw Ghetto WWII operation in 1942, to abandon the children of the orphanage he worked in but opted to follow and support them in their last moments of life in the Nazi extermination camp at Treblinka.Dignity of the child, children’s rights and children’s citizenship were underlying the thinking of JanuszKorczak, which has become an important contribution to the Convention on the Rights of the Child proposed by Poland and adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 1989.

A series of events will take place in different countries to remind the humanity about the noble cause of child protection that Dr. Korczak gave his life for. Alongside New York, Paris, Strasbourg, Vienna, Geneva and Beijing, the city of Tirana was chosen as one of the locations where prominent human rights activists and promoters will gather to raise their united voice for children. The proceedings of the Tirana seminar will feed into a strengthened global commitment to children expected to be the outcome of an international conference scheduled to crown the Year of JanuszKorczak in Warsaw towards end-2012.

Supporting the Government of Poland in the “Democracy Must Work for Children”seminar initiative are the Government of Albania (through the Ministry of Foreign generic propecia Affairs and MoLSAEO), UNICEF and the Council of Europe. It should be noted that Albania’s presidency of the Committee of Ministers in the CoE between 23 May and 9 November, 2012 is a fortunate opportunity to strengthen the common European dimension of the discussion on child rights, as well as to promote the newly adopted CoE Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015.

The agenda of the seminar will be focused on a selected number of subjects, such as:

–         Protecting children from violence and abuse;

–         Juvenile Justice;

–         Rights of particularly vulnerable children (with disabilities and/or minorities);

–         Ombudsman for Children as a mechanism to address unresolved issues in all the above areas.

The participants will come from different backgrounds of government officials, NGO activists, academicians and think-tank leaders, prominent social and media personalia – all those whose professional attitude and record of successful work for children can help show case the progress of the region in child rights protection, as well as identifying the gaps still to be addressed. The list of invitees to the seminar includes: representatives of Albanian ministries, such as the MoFA, MoLSAEO, MoJ, MoH, MoI; Albanian State Agency for Children, Ombudsman’s Office; representatives of diplomatic missions and development assistance agencies. An international dimension of the seminar comes with the participation of delegates from countriesof Southern Europe. Albanian and international NGOs, think-tanks and academics concerned with children’s rights will offer the perspective of the civil society.

Next day, on 15th June, the participants will be invited to join field visits to projects where actual services to children and families in need of social assistance are offered. The programme of visits will include the Center for Autism, the Social Center Don Bosko and an exhibition on “Painting the Smiles” by a Polish expert.

Paving the way for an in-depth discussion during the seminar, a press conference will be held on 31 May in Sheraton cinema hall, at 11 am. Official speakers will include MmeLiriBerisha, the Ambassador of Poland in Albania, Representatives of UNICEF and of the Council of Europe. The press conference will be followed by screening of AndrzejWajdafilm “Korczak” (1990) dedicated to the legendary Polish pedagogue. (Invitations to the press conference and the film screening will be officially issued by MmeBerisha Office and the Embassy of Poland).