The Norwegian Deputy Minister for Children and Equality, Mr Tom Erlend Skaug, opened the conference and was followed by a keynote speech by Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children and President of ”Missing Children Europe”.
Together with leading European and international experts from the child rights and anti-trafficking field, the participants engaged in a review of the current state of knowledge, policy and practice and adopted the Oslo Conclusions.
Further, in the Conference Statement, the experts call for renewed efforts to solve known challenges: still, too often, children are not correctly identified and remain excluded from the assistance and support they are entitled to. Some children refuse to accept services that are not tailor-made to their specific needs. The quality of the identification process and referral is therefore essential, and they have to be in accordance with the best interests of the child.
The results of a multi-country consultation process with child victims of exploitation and trafficking informed the discussion: the children had previously made recommendations on what kind of support is needed to exit difficult and exploitative situations. The speakers, panellists and participants asked and responded to critical questions, engaged in solution-oriented discussions and identified key learning from today’s practice that could guide more effective and appropriate approaches to identification and referral, in the region and beyond.
The conference builds upon previous meetings and achievements in the CBSS Protect Children on the Move project and is a follow up to The Stockholm Conclusions Promoting Good Practices in Protecting Migrant and Asylum Seeking Children, especially Unaccompanied Children, and Finding Solutions for the Children, Families, Societies and States – December 2016. The Guidelines on the human rights and the best interests of the child in transnational child protection cases have been developed as well as a special portal on Wikipedia providing information about transnational child protection. Several hundred officials, professionals and experts have been consulted, trained and shared information during 2013 – 2018.
The Council of the Baltic Sea States Expert Group on Children at Risk developed the project in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers. During 2016, the two Councils organized training seminars in Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. In 2017, meetings on good practices in identification and referral have taken place in St. Petersburg and Vilnius.
The conference was co-organized with the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs.