Street Children Expert Consultation

The expert consultation held on November 1-2, titled “Promoting the rights of children working and/or living on the street: Bridging the gaps between policy and practice,” aimed to solidify the Global Research Paper on street children in order complete the document by the end of 2011.

Gathered at the meeting were field experts, country missions, and civil society representatives working to contribute tangible results to the report. The meeting was sponsored by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner and co-sponsored by Aviva, Consortium for Street Children, and UNICEF.
Ibrahim Salama, Director, Human Rights Treaties Division and Andrezej Sados, Deputy Permanent Representative of Poland, Presidency of the European Union opened the meeting. Each highlighted the presence of children working/living on the streets around the world. Ms. Salama urged participants to consider social and cultural factors that push children to the streets  as well as acknowledge the need to make known that these children are not criminals rather rights holders. While Mr. Andrzej Sados stressed the role to develop and implement data and the crucial role the UN plays in promoting the agenda to improve the situation for this child demographic.
Ms. Imma Guerras-Delgado, Human Rights Officer, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, shared that since 2008 the Human Rights Council dedicates one day each year to the discussion of the rights of the child.
The first panel addressed more generally children in street situations to provide background and an introduction to the subject matter. Contributions covered the uniqueness of each child’s situation; children and “street-connectedness;” the importance of a holistic approach; interactive data collection to yield improved analysis; and the education of street children on their rights.
 Moreover, main challenges for children in street situations were addressed.  In particular, experts contended challenges extended to the lack of funding in public institutions, holistic policies to implement psychological protection and additional support; harmonization of national and regional plans; change of perceptions to promote reintegration of street children; and sport as an educational tool to actively fight challenges. On framework of child protection systems, participants emphasized the importance of the children’s right to family and effective implementation of legislative framework.
Finally, when addressing the collection and use of data to promote and protect the rights of the child data collection process participants stated the need for people interaction over the superficial extraction of data, importance of gaining trust from children, knowledge and experience of local situations as well as good timing.