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Speech by Mr Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, at the Opening of the Conference on the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015

Speech by Mr Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, at the Opening of the Conference on the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2012-2015
Sunday, 20 November 2011

Your Royal Highness of Hanover,

Dear Deputy Secretary General,

Dear Ministers,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly pleased to address you at the very opening of this most important conference.

Please let me start by a glance at the official title of this conference: "Building a child-friendly Europe: turning a vision into reality". We all agree and reiterate on many occasions how important it is to protect children's rights, to ensure their well-being as children and to help them develop into adults who live free and accomplished lives. We all fight for this purpose in our own families and in our professional capacities – and yet, the objectives are far from being reached for all children today.

This conference is gathering an impressive number of people from different backgrounds. It shows us how many stakeholders are involved and must co-operate when it comes to ensuring our children's well-being. It also shows how complicated protecting children can be with so many parties being involved.

Children's rights and child protection have to be ensured in many different spheres and at many different levels from the European to the local level. Indeed, the local level is the most important one, as this is where children live and need protection.

And I am glad that our Organisation and the Parliamentary Assembly that I represent here today has so actively contributed to the protection of children at the European level during these last couple of years. Let me now highlight a couple of concrete examples of the Assembly's contribution to this work.

A number of reports, resolutions and recommendations on the protection of children have been adopted by the Assembly in 2010 and 2011, for example regarding children witnessing domestic violence, children in care, guaranteeing the right to education for children with illnesses or disabilities, children abused in institutions and, most recently, during our October 2011 part session, on child abuse images and related crimes.

As you all know, from the very start, the Parliamentary Assembly has been a partner of the governmental sector within the framework of the ONE in FIVE Campaign to stop sexual violence against children. We successfully launched the parliamentary dimension of this campaign in January 2011 in Strasbourg and I personally attended the first meeting of Contact Parliamentarians which was held during the Assembly's 2011 first part-session.

Today, this network brings together 40 very active contact parliamentarians who will continue to animate our campaign in 2012 and beyond. In this context, I would like to thank, once again, the German government, for its generous support which helps us carry out the activities of the campaign. I hope very much that other Parliaments and Governments will follow suit in future in order to extend our campaign further.

I would also like to mention the Sub-Committee on Children of the Parliamentary Assembly which has recently supported the Council of Europe's Child's Rights programme wherever possible. I am proud of the fact that our Sub-Committee is represented at this conference by a strong delegation of more than ten members who will hold a meeting tomorrow, Monday afternoon, in the presence of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Hanover, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the President of the Monegasque National Council and several international and local experts from Monaco. I am pleased to announce that this meeting will be the occasion to launch a Monegasque parliamentary dimension of the ONE in FIVE Campaign. I would very much like to congratulate the National Council of Monaco on this initiative and invite other national parliaments to follow this example.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Dear colleagues,

The overall goal of the new Child's rights programme debated today will be to implement international standards on the rights of the child through comprehensive national strategies. I can assure that the Parliamentary Assembly will take an active part in this process and the issue of children's rights will remain high on our agenda in the years to come. Moreover, we will spare no effort to ensure that the implementation of these rights is supported by national parliaments wherever possible. Parliamentarians, who are the ones who adopt national laws as well as scrutinise their implementation by Governments, have their role to play amongst the multitude of stakeholders protecting children, and I am confident that their contribution to the success of the programme will be very valuable.

Dear friends,

I have expressed many words in favour of children's rights, and we all know that parliamentarians are people of words and debates. However, as said in the very beginning, children in particular need to be protected at the very local level, within their direct environment, and they need to be protected through concrete action. Therefore, let us all make sure that all words expressed at this important conference are transformed into reality and into concrete action in favour of children!

I am wishing us all an interesting conference that will be fruitful for the children of Europe above all !

Thank you very much for your attention.