ORGANIZATION OF ENOC
ORGANIZATION OF ENOC
The General Assembly consists of all full members. Associate members can assist but can not vote. While members are in fact the independent institutions for children, they are represented within ENOC by the person who holds the mandate or its delegated representative. Both the General Assembly and the Bureau have decision-making powers within ENOC.
The Bureau consists of five persons, the past Chairperson, the current Chairperson, the Chairperson-elect, the Secretary and Treasurer of the Network.
The Chairperson-elect, Secretary and Treasurer of ENOC are elected by the General Assembly during its annual general meeting. The Chairperson-elect is elected for a non-renewable one-year term and begins his/her functions at the beginning of the following annual general meeting of the General Assembly. The Secretary and Treasurer are elected for a one-year term and may be re-elected for a maximum of two further consecutive terms (three years in all). They take up their post immediately following election.
Current ENOC Bureau composition (2016-2017):
Ms. Polina Atanasova
The Secretariat works in close collaboration with the Bureau to ensure the effective coordination and development of the activities of the network and the strengthening of its core administration.
It coordinates the efforts of ENOC's members to contribute to policy development and to link with the European Union, other European and international institutions or NGOs operating in the children's rights field.
INDEPENDENT CHILDREN’S RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS (ICRIs)The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) links independent offices which have been established in European countries to promote children's fundamental rights.
Inevitably and correctly, the aims and priorities of independent institutions for children will vary from state to state. They will vary according to differences in the situation of children and according to the variety of governmental and non-governmental institutions and structures affecting children and promoting human rights within states.
The following is a summary of aims of existing independent institutions; not all offices pursue all these aims (in particular, offices vary according to whether or not they deal with individual cases and complaints from children):
All independent institutions for children share some of the above aims, and so it is possible to identify some common factors likely to make them effective:
The United Nations Handbook on National Human Rights Institutions suggests the following "effectiveness factors":
The "Paris Principles" on the status of national human rights institutions provide a basic framework for the establishment of an independent office to promote children’s human rights. Institutions should have:
Methods of operation must include rights to:
The Principles propose particular guarantees of independence:
(There are additional principles for institutions which are empowered to hear and consider individual complaints and petitions).
The definition of these institutions is that they are independent of government. But the concept of independence is inevitably relative not absolute. Parliament or government generally provides most funding and there must be accountability. And to be influential, these institutions need to have a close but not a dependent relationship with government.
A detailed section in the UN Handbook on National Human Rights Institutions discusses key components of independence. The following section is drawn from the Handbook and from the experiences of developing independent offices for children:
Establishment by legislation: many, but not all, independent institutions for children have been established through an act of parliament, setting out their function and duties, status, powers, methods of appointment and so on. Defining the aims of an institution in relation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides it with the authority of international law, and accentuates independence.
The Handbook suggests: "Ideally a national institution will be granted separate and distinct legal personality of a nature which will permit it to exercise independent decision-making power. Independent legal status should be of a level sufficient to permit an institution to perform its functions without interference or obstruction from any branch of government or any public or private entity. This may be achieved by making the institution directly answerable to parliament or to the head of state";
Operational autonomy: institutions must be able to set and pursue their own agenda, and conduct their own affairs independently of any other individual, organisation, department or authority. While such institutions need to be consulted by government, and are likely to be asked to do particular projects for government, government should not be able to dictate the office’s agenda, or overcrowd it to prevent it developing its own priorities and being able to respond quickly to new situations.
Similarly, reports and recommendations from an institutions should not normally be subject to review or change by any other body.
Financial autonomy: the institution needs to be financially capable of performing its functions, and as far as possible finance of the office should be removed from political control, and be guaranteed for a reasonable period. For financial issues, the institution should be accountable not to government but to parliament. The institution should also be free to raise additional funds from non-government sources.
Method of appointment and dismissal of key staff: the process should be transparent, as far as possible independent of government, preferably by a representative body such as parliament and it should involve independent bodies including NGOs concerned with the human rights of children. "Any institution can only ever be as independent as the individuals of which it is composed. The granting of legal, technical and even financial autonomy to a national institution will be insufficient in the absence of specific measures to ensure that its members are, individually and collectively, capable of generating and sustaining independence of action" (Handbook, page 11).
The following appointment issues need to be addressed, preferably in legislation:
UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the "Riyadh Guidelines"), adopted in 1990, propose that:
"Consideration should be given to the establishment of an office of ombudsman or similar independent organ, which would ensure that the status, rights and interests of young persons are upheld and that proper referral to available services is made..." (para. 57)
The appointment of independent offices has been strongly promoted by the Council of Europe, whose "European Strategy for Children" (1996) proposes the appointment of :
"a commissioner (ombudsman) for children or another structure offering guarantees of independence, and the responsibilities required to improve children’s lives, and accessible to the public through such means as local offices".
The Strategy puts all its recommendations in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. (Recommendation 1286 on a European Strategy for Children, adopted by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, January 24 1996).
In most countries non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a key role as independent advocates for children, or for particular groups of children. Their role is recognised in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Ratification and promotion of the Convention has led to a rapid growth in the numbers and influence of NGOs promoting children’s rights; in many European countries coalitions of the NGOs working for children’s rights have been formed. NGOs’ national role is not diminished - although it may be changed - by the existence of an independent office for children established by parliament. Where such an office exists, it is likely to develop a close and mutually supportive relationship with NGOs.
In some countries non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have styled their advocacy for children as ombudsman activities (and "ombudswork" for children is a broad term which has been adopted by some commentators to cover all aspects of child advocacy, both governmental and non-governmental).