Conference on Children Rights in the Migration Crisis and in the Digital Environment

  • Awareness
  • 28/09/2016
  • Estonian Institute of Human Rights

On 4 November 2016 (with a reception on the evening of 3 November 2016), Tallinn will host an international conference on children's rights. The conference is organised by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Estonian Institute of Human Rights. The event is a part of the Estonian Chairmanship in the Council of Europe.

The aim of the conference is to share good practices and discuss two burning issues that are currently in the spotlight in Estonia, in Europe as well as at a global level - children's rights in the turmoil of migration and children's rights in the digital environment. When we are talking about children's rights, it is paramount to engage with children themselves and have their voices heard. At the conference, children will be participating next to top leaders and will present their own messages and thoughts about the issues under discussion. The working language of the conference is English.
Children in the digital environment
The constantly evolving digital world creates huge potential for everyone, from governments to individuals and in particular children. Experts are predicting that within ten years, almost 90 per cent of the entire population will be connected to the internet and the digital and physical worlds will be merged. We have to acknowledge that there is a digital gap between children and adults because the way children use technology is very different from their parents. Estonia has many good examples on how to best use the opportunities that the innovation has brought about, in particular how we could use it to smartly raise and educate our next generations. As with many other things in life, along with opportunities come challenges, therefore it is necessary to find strategies and means on how to cope with the risks that widespread digitalisation has on children's health and wellbeing. The latest surveys show us that children are spending more time with different gadgets than they spend at school or with their parents.
In the panel discussions about the digital environment, we will focus on two main topics: the possibilities of the digital environment and the challenges it brings.
The opportunities of the digital environment
New technologies and digital solutions are an inseparable part of modern lives. The digital environment gives numerous possibilities to learn. ICT and digital media have added a new dimension to children's rights to education. What is the role of schools and education? It is the task for educators and leaders to prepare next the generation for the digital future and give them necessary skills and digital intelligence? How do we best use the modern means? What is the role of parents when their children are better at handling modern devices than themselves? Does all the information available online make us more knowledgeable and how can we be intelligent internet users? What is the future of digital solutions and what should be the goal of learning?
The challenges of the digital world
The digital environment is like an enchanted forest. While offering numerous opportunities and great solutions, there are also many dangers and risks that often remain hidden at first sight. The emphasis should be on the supporting but not controlling children, because more informed children will be better prepared for the potential risks. What are the potential risks which children should know about? What could be done at government level to protect them, and how can we keep pace with the changes in the digital environment? How can we recognise and report abuse and bullying? Is there a difference between virtual and real life? How can we recognise addiction to virtual life (e.g. surfing online, social media, gaming) and what are the impacts on mental health? Where can we find help? What are the responsibilities of private stakeholders and how could perpetrators be held accountable (considering the cross-border nature of virtual life)?
The topics of the digital world will be discussed between several high-level speakers.  Jutta Croll, the Managing Director of the German Centre for Child Protection on the Internet; Maarja Punak, Estonian police officer and a web-constable; Birgy Lorenz, IT-manager and a teacher, Estonian Teacher of the Year 2011; Mart Laanpere, senior research fellow at Tallinn University and a training manager in Samsung's DigiTurn project; Anne Kleinberg, the Head of the Psychiatry Clinic of Tallinn Children's Hospital; and a representative from the Telia Company will be participating in the panels. Several other speakers are yet to be confirmed. 
Children in the migration turmoil
In the other part of the conference, we will discuss the situation of children in the migration crisis and in a globalising world in general. 
Europe is at the centre of a migration crisis where children on the move and otherwise affected by migration are one of the most vulnerable groups and face a great danger of their rights being violated. The principle of the best interests of the child is too often neglected in asylum and immigration procedures. It is our task to find effective and long-lasting solutions to protect and safeguard children fleeing war, violence and persecution. There are many countries, organisations and inspiring individuals who have notable experience in receiving these children and families, as well as helping them to adapt and integrate different cultures and backgrounds – there is a lot we can learn from them.
The topics of the migration crisis will be discussed among David McLoughlin, UNICEF's Deputy Regional Director; George Moschos, Deputy Ombudsman for Children's Rights in Greece; Fredrik Malmberg, Ombudsman for Children in Sweden; Stephanie Rap, researcher and lecturer at Leiden University; Elin Wernquist Roberts, Head of Children's Rights Bureau in Stockholm; Abdirahim Hussein Mohamed, Somalian-born Finnish politician and media personality; Koen Leurs, assistant professor at Utrecht University; Sølve Bjørn Randal from Bergen City Government in Norway and Kadri Soova from PICUM - Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants. 
The key note speaker of the conference is Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights. The patron of the conference is Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jürgen Ligi.
More information about the conference and registration form can be found at

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