null Message of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights on World Children’s Day

“It is at both hard and imperative to celebrate the rights of the child when there is a war raging next to us, whose victims are not only the affected children but also, childhood itself”, Ombudsman Dr. Ákos Kozma reminds us on World Children’s Day. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary thinks that the pandemic, the ensuing economic problems and the war, as well as the climate change pose enormous challenges to the states and families as they are but in the meantime, we should not forget to give our children not only security but also, a real childhood.

We celebrate children’s rights and with that, children in general, on 20 November each year. The occasion to do so is the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is one of the most important and most successful cornerstones of international rights protection, which has by now become iconic. It was not destroyed by the compromises that had been required for its adoption, on the contrary: it is still the best example for a human rights document that everyone can identify with. However, it takes great efforts to make the Convention accessible to everyone, to ensure that everyone gets familiar with its content.

It cannot be stressed enough that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is such a standard and point of reference which has not only shaped legal systems, legal regulation and practices but one that has also impacted how we view children, parents and responsibility now. In hard times, amidst various uncertainties, these universal ideas on human rights, the common language between states and societies, as well as the individual persons are gaining weight. It cannot be disputed any more that every child is a human being, with real, enforceable general and specific rights from its birth, and neither is it questionable that a child cannot be a simple means or object of a decision. It is a shared value that children are human beings who have their own rights, dignity, will, and personality, who deserve to be treated with respect, care and appreciation just like adults.

In Hungary, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights as the Ombudsman for Children is responsible for safeguarding the rights of the child. It is the Ombudsman’s responsibility to continuously monitor the fulfilment of the international obligations with regard to children’s rights, in addition to which he also promotes the professional dialogue related to children’s rights and he takes constructive participation in finding the answers. 

The Ombudsman has paid special attention to the protection of children’s rights in 2022 as well, be they children raised in their families or in state care, whether this protection concerns educational, health care issues, or children with disabilities or fleeing the war. Several of our reports have dealt with the situation of the education of special needs children, furthermore, we have concluded a comprehensive inquiry on the operation of the digital child protection system and the enforcement of the right of separated parents to information. On-site ombudsman’s inquiries and visits continue to be regular at child protection institutions all over the country. The Commissioner continuously monitors the situation and rights protection of people fleeing Ukraine to Hungary both in person and through his staff members. In addition to providing direct legal and humanitarian support, he reviewed the situation and data on the access of fleeing children to education and their integration, in the framework of an ex officio inquiry, and he has also formulated some recommendations.