National Conference “Child Protection Reform in Azerbaijan”

October 22-23, 2009


National Conference ‘Child Protection Reform in Azerbaijan’ dedicated to the Year of Child in Azerbaijan and the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child started October 22 at Gulustan Palace in Baku. Azerbaijan`s First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva attended the conference organized by the Azerbaijani government, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNICEF and Azercell Company.


The event which brings together state officials, parliamentarians and representatives of international organizations was opened by Deputy Premier Elchin EFENDIYEV, who said huge and capital changes have happened for the past years in socioeconomic sphere of the country. Azerbaijan has achieved sustainable economic development, fruitful base created for worthy life of people. It all has brought to realization of the child rights in the country, protection of children and improvement of children’s life.


Good results have been gained in field of identification of the child protection mechanism and creation of new forms of the alternative care. In this regard, adoption of ‘The State Programme on giving children from the public child institutions to families (deinstitutionalization) and alternative care in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2006-2015)’ approved by the Order of the President of Azerbaijan of March 29, 2006 is of great significance and important steps are taken for performance of the Programme. Azerbaijan`s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP Mehriban Aliyeva renders all the support to the successful implementation of the process.


E.Efendiyev underlined in the 2-day conference the main governmental structures responsible for reforms in the child protection system in Azerbaijan – the Education Ministry, the Ministry of Labor and Population’s Social Protection, the State Committee for Family, Woman and Child Problems, Human Rights Commissioner, UNICEF regional office, international and local NGOs, experts will deliver lectures, important themes in field of the child protection system will be discussed with working groups, the declaration of the conference adopted.


The Deputy Premier noted the Azeri government is ready to further carry out all obligations taken before international organizations concerning the child protection and before our children, and we hope for support of Heydar Aliyev Foundation in this job.


Azerbaijan`s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, MP Mehriban ALIYEVA made a speech at the conference.


Head of UNICEF Azerbaijan Office Mark HEREVARD noted necessity for uniting efforts of all agencies of the country dealing with child problems. He said Azerbaijan has achieved progress in field of child affairs and it is reflected in legislation. According to him, several civic society organizations and international organizations provide new alternative care services to children from poor groups. These services assure children across Azerbaijan with help of vital significance and contribute to development of the alternative care systems in the country.


Mentioning firm cooperation of UNICEF with Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Azeri government M.Herevard gave detailed information of the alternative care systems. 


Stressing importance of ‘The State Programme on giving children from the public child institutions to families (deinstitutionalization) and alternative care in the Republic of Azerbaijan (2006-2015)’ approved by the Order of President Ilham Aliyev the Head of UNICEF Azerbaijan Office said joint action of public, private and civil society structures towards solution of the problem should be assured. Main function of state here is to assure support to projects to be developed. 


Talking of the conference’s duties Mark Herevard mentioned necessity for identification of the strategy to organize protection of the child rights.


Expressing delight for supporting the project President of Azercell Telekom JV Ali AGHAN said this conference is of greater significance, since 2009 is the Year of Child in Azerbaijan.


He noted President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva’s action towards protection of children’s rights, care and attention to the children deprived of parental care is highly valued in the society, saying the projects the Foundation accomplishes related to children are directed to the future of Azerbaijan.


Stating the partnership has been established among the Azerbaijani government, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, UNICEF, Azercell Telekom LLC and representatives of civic society for strengthening implementation of reforms in field of protection of child rights Ali Aghan said some projects have been performed as result of this. Significance of the national public awareness campaign ‘Every child needs a family’ targeting propaganda of the right of children to grow up in the family environment in fall 2008 was highly assessed.


Then lectures were given in the conference.


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Making lecture ‘Towards the child protection reform in Azerbaijan’ Education Minister Misir MARDANOV mentioned special significance of the conference for improvement of children’s prosperity, protection of their rights, multilateral and harmonic development in society, rendering educational and medical services to them, assurance of right of children deprived of parental care in the family environment.


President Ilham Aliyev always pays attention to improvement of the child welfare. In the first years of independence Azerbaijan joined the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted legislative acts, including Law ‘On child rights’ to fulfill liabilities taken from this document.


The Minister said dynamic development of Azerbaijani economy for the past years has brought to implementation of programmes in field of protection of children’s rights. ‘The State Programme on giving children from the public child institutions to families (deinstitutionalization) and alternative care in the Republic of Azerbaijan’ has been developed by the initiative and support of Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva. In frame of the Children Homes and Boarding Schools Development Programme developed at the initiative of the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, 38 boarding schools and children homes in the country were reconstructed, capitally repaired and equipped with modern appliances for the past 5 years. 


To implement the Programme the Ministry of Education has done a number of works with other partners. To effectively realize and manage the Programme a working group was created at the Ministry by the Cabinet’s order, assessment carried out at 55 public child institutions. Different actions are taken in places to improve welfare of families, not able to freely render care to their children, and their children. 


The Minister mentioned one of main duties of the Programme is awareness of population of deinstitutionalization. Booklets have been published for this purpose and provided to public child institutions, respective public structures, international organizations, NGOs, special programs organized on TV channels, discussions held.


Misir Mardanov emphasized the legal basis in this direction must be improved, mechanisms for giving children from the public child institutions to families, protection of their rights and social protection applied, social employees prepared to take preventive actions among families from risk group to prevent giving of children to public child institutions, mechanisms for periodic monitoring of the state of children given to families created.


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Delivering lecture ‘Social protection actions in frame of support to family’ Minister of Labor and Population’s Social Protection Fuzuli ELEKBEROV said declaration of 2009 a Year of Child by order of President Ilham Aliyev opened huge opportunities to increase our joint efforts for improving the state of children in the country, and today’s event is the sign of this.


The Minister mentioned improvement of the social protection system, study of needs of poor sections of population and rendering them various aids is of special importance of priorities of the socioeconomic policy of the state. Poverty has dropped from 49% to 13,2 as result of measures taken.


The State Programme for Poverty Reduction and Economic Development in the Republic of Azerbaijan approved by the presidential decree envisages reforms in the existing social protection system to more effectively protect the vulnerable groups. The addressed social allowance system is applied in the country since July 1, 2006. Nearly 153.000 families get now addressed social allowance and 107AZN on average is paid monthly to every family. 90% of those receiving allowance have children, 45,2% of which have 3 and more children. 50% of people getting allowance are children. The level of poverty among families with many children that receive allowance has fallen up to 20% for 3 years.


According to Law ‘On social allowances’, social allowances of 34 types are paid to about 370.000 families by the Ministry of Labor and Population’s Social Protection. 6 of them are for children directly, which covers up to 135.000 children. 


The Ministry develops the State Programme on Social Rehabilitation of Poor Families in 2010–2013, which will pay special attention to social protection of children.


The Minister mentioned thanks to President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva attention to children all over the country is rapidly growing. Implementation of different large-scale projects by the Foundation in the past years has made thousands of children happy. 


A number of works have been done within close cooperation with the Education Ministry, UNICEF, other public bodies, international and non-governmental organizations to accomplish the State Programme on giving children from the public child institutions to families and alternative care approved by the Order of the President of Azerbaijan. As result of actions taken to prevent giving of children to boarding schools giving of more than 50 children to boarding schools was prevented, over 20 children returned home. Pilot project ‘Strengthening of rehabilitation service (2009–2011)’ is underway in Guba and Ismailly districts with some international NGOs. Within that project 51 children were rendered various rehabilitation services at medical institutions and homes for the past 2 months.


F.Elekberov expressed confidence the conference will be a strong stimulus to creation of the modern child protection system.


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Expressing gratitude to Azerbaijan`s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, MP Mehriban Aliyeva and organizers of the conference for supporting realization of such an event in Baku Chairwoman of the State Committee for Family, Woman and Child Problems Hijran HUSEYNOVA said protection of child rights and freedoms, assuring them with high quality education and medical services, formation as a perfect personality and worthy citizen are priority directions in the state child policy of Azerbaijan. The state child policy founded by national leader Heydar Aliyev and successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev is being formed as a national strategy. Continuing this policy President Ilham Aliyev and Azerbaijan`s First Lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, MP Mehriban Aliyeva pay special attention to the child affairs.


Noting Azerbaijan firmly cooperates with the UN structures dealing with child rights H.Huseynova said Law ‘On child rights’ has been adopted in Azerbaijan, national legislation and legal acts in the field improved, a number of state programmes directed to protection of children’s rights, their normal formation, healthy growth developed, 2009 declared the Year of Child by the presidential order. 


She underlined the periodic report has been made on implementation of the country’s obligations related to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to her, within the time after the report one of the most important problems in Azerbaijan is child death. To change the present situation all the public structures in the republic have taken intensive actions that decreased death per every 1000 births from 67 to 43, neonatal death from 31 to 28.   


Saying one of priorities in child affairs is protection of health of mothers and children the Chairwoman of the State Committee underlined the Action Plan for Protection of Health of Mothers and Children for 2006-2010 has been developed for this purpose. In frame of the Plan, reforms in field of health, creation of clinics and supplying them with new equipments, lifting quality of medical help to children, prevention of diseases among children is underway. 


Special attention has also been paid to settlement of problems of children needing special care. In this regard, the Programme on giving children from the public child institutions to families and alternative care approved by the Order of President Ilham Aliyev is of special significance.


Talking of problems in this sphere H.Huseynova called on parents, pedagogical collectives and public to increase care and attention to children from vulnerable groups. She said there are 56,5.000 children in need of special care in Azerbaijan, 1282 children needing special care have bene involved in boarding schools. The main factor having negative impact on solution of the problem is occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan’s lands by Armenia, which has left 195.994 refugee and IDP children.


Touching upon early marriage, juvenile justice and avoidance of children from school H.Huseynova said all programmes and projects implemented in the republic will contribute to the development of children, strengthen the social base of our families.


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Presenting the special award of UNICEF to Mrs Mehriban Aliyeva for the noble action towards protection of children in Azerbaijan Head of the UNICEF Azerbaijan Office Mark Herevard said:


Dear Mrs Aliyeva, with great honor I will make very little speech at the proposal of participants of the conference. Let me express our gratitude to You for Your successful activity, wish You to continue Your act in field of protection of children. I once again thank You.  


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After the break the conference was continued in sessions. In the first session led by Education Minister Misir Mardanov were delivered lectures ‘Importance of the national independent monitoring mechanism in field of protection of child rights’ by Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Commissioner Elmira Suleimanova, ‘Significance of participation of children in more effective protection of child rights’ by Chairman of the Child Parliament Tale Aliyev, ‘The child protection reform in CIS and East Europe: Regional Vision’ by UNICEF Regional Children Protection Advisor Jean-Claude Legrand.  


Lecturers gave comprehensive information on importance of the independent monitoring mechanism in field of protection of child rights, actions taken in this course and in field of analysis of results gained, as well important successes achieved.


In the second session presided by the Milli Mejlis Social Policy Committee’s Chairman Hady Rejebli were made lectures ‘Testing the integral services on the local level’ by Alessandro Latini, the representative of Italian EducAid and Bologna University, ‘Strategic planning of social reform: Main Plan for the state of children at public child institutions and transformation of public child institutions’ by Irina Malanchuk, the UNICEF child protection advisor from Moldova, ‘Funding the reform: Comparison of public child institutions and alternative services’ by David Larter, the UNICEF policy advisor from Great Britain.    


They mentioned UNICEF has been performing several projects since 2006-2007 in frame of the deinstitutionalization project, informed of experience of different countries in this direction. According to rapporteurs, respective information concerning the issue in Masally, Guba, Ismailly districts and Baku’s Nizami district has been collected and studied, joint work of corresponding structures in the monitored districts observed, services integrated, some pilot projects successfully implemented, projects had positive results. 


They underlined necessity for exchange of experience obtained.


Discussions were held on the lectures delivered in the first day of the conference, themes of discussions to be held the next day in the working groups declared.

 

 

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