The director of the Network of Organizations for Children of Serbia (MODS), Sasa Stefanovic together with Ira Rakovic, a representative of the Association “Our Children” from Zenica and the Network of NGOs for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina “Stronger Voice for Children”, participated in the working visit to Brussels from 21 to 23 May. The visit was carried out within the project “Young with a Voice” implemented by the Association for the Development of Children and Youth “Open Club”, with the financial support of the European Union. The aim of the visit was to present the situation related to child rights in the countries of the Western Balkans to the representatives of relevant bodies of the European Union.
During their stay in Brussels, Mr Stefanovic and Mrs Rakovic met with the officials of the Fundamental Rights Unit of the Directorate-General for Justice and the Western Balkans Unit of the Directorate-General for Enlargement, as well as with the coordinator of the Intergroup for Child Rights of the European Parliament and the representatives of the Eurochild.
Mr Stefanovic and Mrs Rakovic pointed out that the priority of the national networks of child-focused organizations in the countries of the Western Balkans is to make sure that the child rights protection, especially of vulnerable groups of children, is placed at the top of the agenda of European accession processes. In that regards, the special emphasize was put on the situation of children in residential care as well as the processes of transformation of social institutions and development of community-based services. Additionally, the representatives from the Brussels institutions were interested in the situation of refugee and migrant children, in particular with regards to the position of unaccompanied minors.
The area of child protection has an important place in negotiation Chapter 23, which includes basic rights, as well as Chapter 19 pertaining to the social policy and social inclusion. In this regard, the participants of the meetings agreed on further cooperation to monitor the situation of child rights in the Western Balkan countries in light of the commitments arising from the EU accession process. Officials of the Directorate-General have expressed their interest in exchanging information with the national networks and their member organizations related to the implementation of measures needed to improve the rights of the child that are taken up by the Governments in the region within the framework of EU accession.
Download here the full paper The State of Child Rights in the Western Balkans.