"The promotion and advancement of the rights of children is a priority for Estonia and during our chairmanship at the Council of Europe. Children’s rights are an integral part of human rights and in Estonia we are determined to create a supportive environment for children, to set the best interests of children as a primary consideration and to ensure the necessary assistance and care in a timely manner and in close co-operation with relevant institutions at a national and local level. The conference will highlight three key areas of the new Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child, in particular: child participation, children’s rights in the digital environment and children in migration. The conference will bring together experts and practitioners who deal with children’s rights on daily basis. There we can learn from each other’s good practices, and also from each other’s mistakes, on how to guarantee and protect the basic rights of one of the most vulnerable and externally affected groups in our society – our children."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Estonia
"Investing in children is the key to a sustainable society and even in the light of limited resources, children’s wellbeing should be treated as a priority. Child protection is universal issue as its concerns arise in all parts of the world, in situations of crises and stability. Estonia has undergone many reforms to strengthen the child protection system and has systematically invested into families’ wellbeing. In 2016, the new Child Protection Act was adopted which was established in order to protect the rights of children in the best and timely manner. This bill promotes the development of children in the society, creation of supporting environment, setting the best interests of children as primary consideration and improving the quality of life of children. During Estonia’s presidency of the Executive Board of UNICEF in 2016 and chairmanship at the Council of Europe we continue advocating for the protection of the rights of all children. In today’s turbulent times we also need to understand that a greater inclusion of humanitarian issues and a great deal of partnerships between the governments, civil society, private companies, funds and individuals is necessary in order to protect the rights of the children."
The Minister of Social Affairs, Estonia
"Since the adoption of the resolution on the rights of the child in 1990, (the) countries have made efforts to shift the paradigm of how society should view children and their rights. There are still gaps to be fulfilled, and there are always new challenges ahead, where cooperation between governments, civil society, ombudsmen for children, as well as children’s organizations, is of paramount importance in identifying the burning issues and ensuring the right means to tackle the problems. The participation of children in the decision-making process in which they are affected is important - and it gives them the opportunity to speak up and influence their own future. For that reason, at the conference children will be participating next to top leaders and will present their own messages and thoughts about the issues under discussion. We will get insight from children themselves."
Director of International Organizations Bureau, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"As the Chancellor of Justice and the ombudsman for children in Estonia, I consider it very important that topics influencing children’s and young people’s everyday life are constantly under attention in the society. The digital world is certainly one of the issues that all children and young people are affected by. Children and young people use new technologies, Internet and social networks as a natural part of their everyday life and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are safe there. But digital world is not only a dangerous ravine, it also provides endless opportunities to develop, educate, involve and socialize children and young people all over the world. Therefore, I am especially glad that the conference will allow us to discuss among other important topics the opportunities and challenges that the digital world provides, meet experts and influencers in the area, and bring together different perspectives and gain good ideas for the future."
Chancellor of Justice, Estonia
"A child is a full-fledged person, not an immature intermediate form or ingredient for raising an adult person. Children have the same needs as anyone – the right to a safe, secure life, food on the table, the need for self-actualization and to be treated with respect. Because of their relative inexperience, children do not have legal active capacity, but they do have the right to learn and acquire experience. A society that wants to live in the future has to make efforts in the interests of its children. Children have to be provided with favourable learning opportunities, be kept from deprivation, nurtured in terms of their health, and protected from violence. Standing up for children’s interests isn’t just the duty of the state and local government – it’s something we are all obliged to do. It works best when our families are provided for – with caring, housing and employment opportunities.
Raising a child determines what tomorrow looks like for all of us. As Joel Sang said: 'Don’t think that children can be bilked and milked. They will be socially mature sooner than you think."
Chairman of the Board, Estonian Institute of Human Rights