ENOC 2023 Spring Seminar – Stockholm

May 2023

As part of its 2023 Annual work, ENOC has organised the first round of discussion on the issue of "The role of Independent Human and Children’s Rights Institutions in the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child" in the format of a working session (29 May 2023) part of the Spring Seminar that took take place in Stockholm, Sweden, on 29 - 30 May 2023.

The Day 1 of the Seminar provided ENOC members with the opportunity to share knowledge and experience on the issue, and also to discuss the initial terms of the related Policy Statement. On the same occasion, the ENOC 2023 experts, Prof. Ursula Kilkelly and Dr. Katrien Klep, presented the preliminary findings of the ENOC mapping survey on the same theme.

The Day 2 of the Seminar was devoted to this year’s capacity-building subject addressing children’s rights in crisis situations, with a particular focus on the war in Ukraine, as well as in health crises, natural disasters and other emergency situations.

During the ENOC 2023 Seminar, hosted by the office of the Ombudsman for Children in Sweden, a number of speakers joined the event from across Europe and beyond: ENOC members (Ombudspersons for Children and advisors); the Swedish Minister for Social Services; Prof. Ursula Kilkelly and Dr. Katrien Klep as children’s rights experts; representatives of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for the Rights of Citizens Affected by Armed Aggression Against Ukraine; representatives of first reception countries in the context of the war in Ukraine; as well as local and international organizations working for children’s rights in emergencies.

Day 1:

Extensive introduction into the theme of the working session by Caroline Vrijens, ENOC Chair-elect, Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Flanders/Belgium, and Camilla Waltersson Grönvall, Minister for Social Services, Sweden.

Ann Skelton, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, participated in the Spring Seminar by video message and emphasized the value and importance of ICRIs as reliable sources of information that inform recommendations for change, and points of reference for other institutions working towards protecting and promoting children's rights.

Professor Ursula Kilkelly and Dr. Katrien Klep presented the preliminary research findings of the “Institutions for Children’s Rights: A Study of Good Practices for Protecting and Promoting Children’s Rights”. Small group discussions on the terms of the policy statement followed in the afternoon session and then participants expressed their views in plenary.

Day 2:

Anna Knutzen, Senior Child Protection in Humanitarian Action Coordinator at UNICEF, delivered a presentation on the key insights and challenges related to refugees from Ukraine and the importance of safeguarding their rights. Furthermore, Ms. Knutzen acknowledged the significant role played by Ombudspersons for children in all emergency contexts.

Olga Altunina, Representative of the Parliament Commissioner for the Rights of Citizens Affected by Armed Aggression Against Ukraine, provided an update on the dire situation of children's rights in Ukraine, emphasizing the challenges caused by the ongoing nine-year war. She highlighted the increasing number of war crimes, leaving 6.5 thousand children without parental care, with 1.2 thousand of them having lost at least one parent.

A Panel Discussion Assessing Child Protection responses & emergency preparedness in reception countries followed, with representatives from Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia sharing the challenges, shortcomings, mitigating measures and good practices their countries and offices implemented since 24 February 2022.

Maria Schillaci, Board Chair, Save the Children Sweden, and Peter Brune, Coordinator for the Global Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network (MHPSS) in Sweden further focused on the mental health of children in crisis and emergency situations. They drew attention to the Save the Children report “Safe for Some: Europe’s selective welcome to children on the move” and emphasized that mental health encompasses not only clinical interventions but also the preventive aspect of psychosocial support, particularly when conducted in a child-friendly manner.


Group photo of participants to the ENOC Spring Seminar, Stockholm, 2023

ENOC Spring Seminar 2023 Stockholm - group photo