This December marked 10 years since the Protector of Citizens’ Youth Advisory Panel has been established, working on improving the position of children and young in the Republic of Serbia through involving the children and the young in a range of topics significant for promoting their rights and shedding light on the problems they face.

“We thank all the young advisors for their contribution by participating in this body’s work in realization and protection of child rights. We are particularly grateful that you have enriched the work of this Institution with energy, enthusiasm, ideas and sincere commitment, making us even better” the Protector of Citizens said.

The Protector of Citizens’ young advisors will continue their activities in 2021 through the project “Children to Children – Know Your Rights” which is a peer knowledge exchange about child rights and their protection, under the auspices of the Protector of Citizens of the Republic of Serbia. Within the project, funded by the Embassy of Bulgaria, trainings of young panelists on children's rights and a multi-day Summer School on the same topic are planned, and numerous promotional and informative materials on children's rights will be created.

Implementing in practice one of the fundamental principles which the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is set upon – the principle of child participation, the Protector of Citizens established Youth Advisory Panel of the Protector of Citizens and held first meeting with 30 boys and girls from the entire Serbia. So, Youth Advisory Panel became a form of permanent participation of children and the young in the work of the Protector of Citizens, a primary state body in Serbia which included children in its work.

The essential role of the Youth Advisory Panel is to convey to the Protector of Citizens topics important to children and youth, to indicate the problems they face, present their views and raise issues important for improving the positions of children and the young in Serbia. In addition, young advisors promote child's right to freedom of expression and participation in decision-making concerning children, acquaint other children with child rights and encourage peers to take an active role in improving the exercise and protection of their rights.

Boys and girls from all around Serbia, elementary and high school children, and the children from vulnerable groups are equally represented in the Youth Advisory Panel. Panel Members have successfully completed trainings organized by the Protector of Citizens including: general human rights, child rights in particular, protection against discrimination, mechanisms of stereotypes and prejudice formation, problems and the position of children on the move and the possibilities for improving child standard, as well as child participation, public advocacy and raising awareness on the need to impose legal ban on bodily punishment of children, the right to play and leisure, peer education for working with children, workshop skills etc.

On the other hand, Panel members have participated in the trainings and seminars organized by other state bodies, as well as civil society organizations. The Protector of Citizens’ Young Advisors have spoken in many conferences where they presented this Standing Body of the Protector of Citizens promoting child participation and talked about the Panel’s activities and their results.

The Young Advisors acquainted their peers from all around the country with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the role of the Protector of Citizens Institution in protecting child rights, they have conducted surveys on the protection of children and pupils from bullying, as well as on the children’s attitude to bodily punishment; and through the activity “Children to Children and Children for Children” they held workshops with the children and the young who live and work on the streets. They were giving lectures on child rights to elementary and high school students through our country. In addition, the panelists issued recommendations to the Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, the Government of Serbia, ministries, schools and other competent institutions to improve the position of children and protect their rights in a better way.