“The protection and enforcement of children’s rights should be a national minimum” – the message of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on the occasion of the World Children’s Rights Day

“One of the main messages of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child – celebrating its 30th anniversary this year – that the consensus, the national minimum for the protection of children’s rights must be found and can be found”, highlighted Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr. Ákos Kozma on the World Children’s Rights Day. The twentieth of November 2019 has been the Commissioner’s most exciting working day so far: first, he welcomed the Young Ambassadors of the UNICEF in his Office, and in the afternoon he attended a UNICEF event entitled “Children’s Voice”.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly 30 years ago, on 20 November 1989 in New York. Since then, the World Children's Rights Day is celebrated on this calendar day. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely approved international human rights agreement in the world as almost all countries of the world have consented to be bound by it. Hungary was among the first countries to do so, having ratified this instrument in 1991. The Convention can be appreciated for several reasons. We can highlight the individual rights of the child enshrined in it, the protection of the best interest of children, or its significant impact on society’s way of thinking. The Convention is also a symbol: it symbolises the continuous and courageous quest for a consensus, the watchful efforts to this end as well as the achievement thereof. After all, during the preparation of the Convention, States endorsing significantly different political backgrounds and religious beliefs, and their viewpoints had been brought to a common denominator.

Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr. Ákos Kozma was pleased to join the initiative of the UNICEF Hungarian Committee, and he organised his workday around the World Children's Rights Day on 20 November 2019. The protection of children’s rights encompasses a wide variety of commitments and requires a certain attitude. First of all, all children should be aware of their rights as well as of the actual substance of these rights. This also implies knowing one’s boundaries as well as respect for other people’ rights. Children should know that these rights are “serious matters”, and also from whom they can expect help if their rights are infringed. Children’s rights are genuine: they are not simply the miniaturized or “watered-down” versions of adults’ rights – in the same way as nowadays we no longer conceive of children as small adults. One of the important areas in the enforcement of children's rights is the effective involvement of children in matters of their concern, including asking for and also listening to their opinions. Commissioner Dr. Ákos Kozma considers it his priority that the Ombudsman promote the implementation of all these practices by his personal example. During their visit to the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, the Young Ambassadors of the UNICEF could learn about the working methods of the Ombudsman and they could also discuss their questions with the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of the most fundamental standards for the Ombudsman at all times when it comes to the protection of children’s rights. In Hungary, the former parliamentary commissioners (ombudsmen) all contributed significantly to the enforcement of children’s rights and to the inclusion of the Convention and the rights enshrined therein into the “bloodstream” of legal practice and education. Through their public speeches and regular awareness-raising activities, they also helped children’s rights to take root in general thinking. In the afternoon of 20 November 2019, Commissioner Dr. Ákos Kozma participated in the “Children’s Voice” event organised by UNICEF Hungary, and offered his opening remarks for the panel discussion entitled “How much? 30! – For the anniversary of the Hungarian Ombudsman and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child”. This panel discussion brought together professionals from the field of children’s rights, university professors and one of the Young Ambassadors of the UNICEF in a conversation on the protection of children’s rights. On this occasion, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights also presented the digitally available, brand new volume of his Office which summarizes the most important inquiries carried out by the Ombudsman in relation to children’s rights over the past few years as well as the results thereof. With this special volume, the Office of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights wishes to pay tribute to the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.