"The Best Interests of the Child": a dialogue between theory and practice

Focus on the best interests of the child in family affairs

On 9 and 10 December 2014 the Belgian authorities, in cooperation with the Children’s Rights Division of the Council of Europe, organised a European conference focused on the child’s best interests in Brussels. The Conference, which permitted a real dialogue between theory and practice, was organised within the framework of the Belgian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in the perspective of "the promotion and realisation of human rights". This event commemorated, at the same time, the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The conference pursued three objectives:

  • to take stock of the understanding and application of the child’s best interests in the international context as well as in the various national contexts
  • to identify factors that hinder and those that drive as observed by the decision makers in the application of the child’s best interests and to outline solutions
  • to find and develop ethical, procedural and practical standards which support the practitioners and policy makers when they take into consideration the child’s best interests.

The first day of the Conference focused on the child’s best interests in general and the second day, on the child’s best interests in family affairs.

For Belgium, as well as for the Council of Europe, it was essential that all partners experts, decision-makers, practitioners, but also children could give their point of view and could contribute to the discussion.

On 15 April 2015 the Committee of Ministers took note of the conclusions of the conference and invited the Committee of Experts on the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child to take them into account when developing the next Strategy for the Rights of the Child.

We would like to thank all those who were involved in this event. We hope that the conference will contribute to a further enhancement of the position of children and their rights in all member states of the Council of Europe.

On this website you can find the following documents:

  • Publication "The best interests of the child – A dialogue between theory and practice (2016)"
  • the conclusions of the conference
  • a concept note, which outlines the objectives of the conference
  • a detailed programme of the conference
  • all presentations and papers related to the conference
  • a press release concerning the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (November 20th 2014).