The Icelandic Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, The Icelandic Ministry of Education and Children and the Council of Europe organised a one-day high level conference on March 30.
The Icelandic Presidency invited member states of the Council of Europe to take part in the conversation around the fight against violence against children. The aim is to explore various approaches towards the creation of a framework of analysis of the social cost of failing to support children’s wellbeing and prosperity. A key goal is to broaden cooperation on the topic.
Since the Icelandic Parliament passed the Act on the integration of services in the interest of children‘s prosperity (the Prosperity Act) in 2021*, the government has started to broaden collaboration with other organisations and actors to further the rights of the child and the prosperity of children in Iceland.
Our director, Morten Kjaerum, participated in the conference sharing his insights on The Economic Dimension of Human Rights for All.
He says that: “The Icelandic Minister of Education and Children has made convincing work to show how investing in child protection and violence prevention generates a large, long-term prevention dividend. When we put public funding into building roads and bridges it’s addressed as an investment, when we put public funding into supporting children it is perceived as a cost using tax payers’ money. Most likely the return for society – the dividend – is higher on children than bridges.”
Kjaerum calls on Ministers of Finance to engage more in the realisation of Human Rights. States have legally committed themselves to fulfil human rights and yet, those ministers that are responsible for the state budgets hardly see it as their responsibility. That has to change. The IMF has to join in and support this process. For this to happen I am afraid we need a new generation of economists that understand the central place of human rights in any society. With the soaring economic in-equality it can only go too slow.
At the Raoul Wallenberg Institute we will the coming years take part in the work of the Icelandic front runners.
The Prosperity Act is a law in Iceland that aims to improve the lives of children in the country. The law requires different organisations to work together to make sure that children and their caregivers can easily get the help and support they need. The law is based on international standards that protect the rights of children. The government invested more in services for children and families and found that it was a good investment. It would provide a 9.6% return, which is more than what the government would get from other large projects. Not investing in children can have a high cost for society, according to research. Iceland is now focusing on measuring child wellbeing and working with others to create more evidence for the benefits of investing in children. This conference aims to bring together different countries to discuss how to measure the social cost of not supporting children’s wellbeing.