Children debate human rights at European-Asian Meeting in Sofia

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Human rights represent social norms and principles which differentiate humans from animals and are mandatory since the birth of a human being. The levels of personal freedom as well as the freedom of expression which are part of them are among the key indexes suggesting maturity of democracy in a country. Human rights are decisive for the standards of living of citizens.

Unfortunately, a few countries are still at the bottom of charts where these indexes are concerned. In this sense every attempt for a debate in this direction is welcome provided it results in workable solutions.

From 7 to 9 November Sofia is hosting a seminar on Human Rights and Children under the auspices of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) – the largest organization for cooperation between Europe and Asia which has 53 member countries.

It is important to note that this country is the first in Central and Eastern Europe which is hosting such a meeting. The main topics of the seminar which is an accompanying event in the program of the forthcoming Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union are state assistance for survival and development, protection of vulnerable children and international partnership in this direction.

Офелия КъневаOfelia Kaneva, Chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection, explains:

“Talking about child and human rights in the global 21 c. we are in need of many bridges to be sure that everybody, no matter where he or she is, enjoys regard of their rights. Debates accentuate the following points. One of them is interstate and international cooperation in terms of child rights. The second one is related to children in risk accounting for new risks that the new millennium generates for posterity. This includes free movement of people, the digital sphere, violence etc. The third point is related to the active participation of children in decision-making where their interests are directly concerned. Bulgaria is hosting a forum with children from 30 countries who debate on the same agenda as adults.”

The decisions they make will be part of the conclusions from the seminar. In this way for the first time in the history of ASEM children aged from 14 to 18 will present their point of view on universal problems and will be heard by decision-makers.

At the opening of the forum, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Biser Petkov, said that the specialized homes for children without parents in Bulgaria had decreased to 36. By comparison, their number in 2010 was 137. At present, there are fewer than 1,000 children in them, but state institutions continue to promote their integration outside such homes. Finding foster families or returning to their biological parents will be the best solution for their development and personal needs.

Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev pointed out that equal access of children to education and culture is very important for this country, both during and after the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the government continues its work in this direction.

English Daniela Konstantinova

Photos: BGNES
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