Belfast Hosts Child Rights Convention

Some of the world’s top judges and magistrates are due in Northern Ireland today for an international convention on the protection of children’s rights. President Mary McAleese, the Lord Chief Justice for Northern Ireland Sir Brian Kerr and Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, will join 500 delegates across the world at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall for the opening ceremony of the prestigious event. Held every four years, this is the second time the convention – The World Congress of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates – has been held in the UK or Ireland.

This year Belfast successfully competed against Thailand, to a panel of five international judges, to bring the convention to the Province.

The week-long convention will discuss the protection of children’s rights as enshrined in the various international instruments, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child.

The Congress will work to draw up a set of recommendations – The Belfast Recommendations – which will be presented to the United Nations and the Council of Europe before the end of 2006.

Lord Falconer said that the Congress aims to get across some simple and powerful messages about the rights of children in all circumstances.

Commenting, he said: “This is particularly important if we are to address domestic abuse and neglect, which have too frequently gone unheard and unseen in the past. Thankfully these and other problems are becoming more widely acknowledged as governments are working with agencies to prevent crimes against children and bring more perpetrators to justice.”