Speakers and experts taking part in the preparatory debates of the conference

As of 06 february2018

Adem Arkadas-Thibert studied Political Science, Demography, and Human Rights Law in Turkey and in the UK. He has work experience in several capacities in international organisations and international and national NGOs in Turkey, in the UK, in Egypt, in Tanzania, and in Chile. Since October 2004, he has been leading the Human Rights Programme at the International Children’s Center (ICC) based in Turkey. He is a board member of the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) and co-investigator at the GlobalChild project based in Victoria, Canada. He has publications, reports and articles on child rights, human rights and refugee issues.
Ferran Casas is Emeritus Professor at the University of Girona, after having exercised 10 years as Senior Professor of Social Psychology in the Faculty of Education and Psychology at the University of Girona, Spain. He leads the Research Team of Children’s Rights and their Quality of Life (ERIDIQV):, at the Research Institute on Quality of Life (IRQV), University of Girona.
He is a member of the Executive Committee of the International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI) and for the International Society for Quality of Life Studies (ISQOLS). At present he is one of the coordinators of the Children’s Worlds International Survey (ISCWeB, promoted by ISCI and the Jacobs Foundation,, that has collected data on children’s subjective well-being in 18 countries and plans to collect in more than 40 in 2017-18.
He has authored or co-authored 22 books, edited or co-edited eight, more than 100 book-chapters (in nine different languages) and over 100 papers in scientific journals. He is one of the co-editors of the 5-volumes Handbook of Child Well-Being. Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective published by Springer.
From 1992 to 1996, he was the Chair of the Experts Committee on Childhood Policies of the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, France). The last days of his mandate he promoted a Recommendation on children participation in family and social life, that was adopted by the Committee of Ministers in 1998 (R-98-9).
The last 10 years he has been involved in 11 international research projects, 4 of them supported by the European Comission – one outstanding is the YIPPEE project (Young People from a Public care background pathways to Education in Europe. In the field of children’s rights, in the frame of a collaborative research program between Spain and Italy, he used a methodology on “children’s rights dilemmas” that afterwards has been translated to different languages and replicated in several countries.
He received the ISQOLS Distinguished Fellow QOL Award 2014 for evidence of a lifetime and substantial contribution to QOL research and in 2016 the ISCI Award in Honour of Alfred J. Kahn and Sheila B. Kamerman in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of child indicators research from an international perspective.
Agata D’Addato is Senior Policy Coordinator responsible for research, policy and practice at Eurochild. Agata is responsible for coordinating Eurochild’s work on child well-being indicators, family and parenting support, early years education and care. She also coordinates the research study ‘Childonomics - Measuring the long-term social and economic value of investing in children’, alongside Eurochild’s work on mutual learning and practice exchange. Agata has recently co-authored the report “Let Children be Children: Lessons from the Field on the Protection and Integration of Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe”, bringing together 16 case studies from across Europe. She is co-chairing the Child Rights Connect Working Group on Investment in Children, which aims to promote public investment in the realisation of children’s rights through UN human rights treaty bodies and mechanisms.
Before joining Eurochild in 2008, Agata, who holds a PhD in Demography from the University of Bari, worked as a researcher in various universities and well-renowned research institutes across Europe in the fields of demographic change and family policies.
Anne Bourgeois just recently joined the National Commission on the Rights of the Child. For the last 10 years she has been active in the Belgian sector of alternative sanctioning for both the working penalty concerning criminal sentences and the mediation in the administrative sanction system concerning incivilities. She was in charge of the structuration and implementation of both measures on a local scale and of adressing both adult and minor offenders (concerning mediation). Since 2013 she has been in charge of an international cooperation program between a belgian municipality and two small southern moroccan municipalities. The work was specifically based on the reinforcement of capacities of local municipalities, throught the specific theme of the fight against school dropout of children.
Axelle Devaux is a Senior Analyst at RAND Europe and deputy head of the Brussels office. Her research work focuses on education and training policies with a particular interest in ICT in education and the role of ICT to support vulnerable learners. Devaux has worked with the EU institutions for over 12 years and managed the evaluation and implementation of several EU policies and programmes in the education, employment and research policy areas. She is currently coordinating RAND’s work on the European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) for the European Commission. A strand of this project is maintaining and improving an evaluation framework for the assessment of evidence-based practices (EBPs) under child and family policies consistent with the pillars of the 2013 Commission Recommendation on Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage.
Bernard De Vos is a specialized educator with a specific master’s degree in Islamology. He is the author of several books dealing with childhood and youth issues (among which « Les Apaches des parkings, adolescents des villes et des ghettos » published by Labor in 1999).
Bernard was Director of the civil society organization SOS Jeunes-Quartier Libre, Brussels, for 15 years. In this capacity he was at the origin of the development of several innovative iniatives in the realm of child and youth protection (Samarcande asbl, Solidarcité, Synergie 14, …).
He took up several mandates in decision-making and consultative bodies in this sector.
Since March 2008, Bernard is Delegate-General for Children’s Rights, French Community of Belgium.
Between September 2013 and October 2014 he was President of the Europen Network of Of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC). Up to date he remains a member of the ENOC’s Executive Office.
Anne-Marie Dieu holds a degree in Political Sciences and a Ph.D in Sociology. Topic of her doctoral thesis consists in an analysis of the changes in human rights organizations, resulting in the book "Values and Associations". Anne-Marie has focused her research on the issues of societal engagement, volunteering, affiliations and gender issues. After an academic career and in the voluntary sector, she joined the Observatoire de l’enfance, de la jeunesse et de l’aide à la jeunesse (OEJAJ) (Observatory of Childhood, Youth and Assistance to Youth) as Research Director in 2011. She has been coordinating the Observatory since June 2015. The OEJAJ is a research and expertise center for children and youth. The Observatory is also responsible for assessing decrees and promoting the rights of the child, as well as evaluating the child rights action plans in the French Community and the Walloon Region of Belgium.
Maud Dominicy is Child Rights Officer at UNICEF Belgium. She has just published a participatory research that gives a voice to migrant and refugee children ( ). She is currently finalizing the latest report of children living in Belgium for the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Since 2001, she is responsible for children’s participation in the context of the "What Do You Think?" project. This project, coordinated by UNICEF Belgium, aims to give a voice to the most vulnerable children and young people so that they can be heard by the CRC and policy makers in Belgium. Maud is also part of UNICEF Belgium’s advocacy team, where she works on the implementation of children’s rights in Belgium. She has an expertise in migration, child poverty, education and participation of children. She obtained a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Master degree in International Relations and European Studies. Before UNICEF, she worked in Honduras with and for children working on the street.
Nicolas Fasel works at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as adviser on human rights measurement. He coordinates the programme of OHCHR on human rights indicators which led to the publication of Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation., and more recently of the Human Rights-Based Approach to Data. He represents OHCHR in the meetings of the international statistical community, in particular in the development of the indicator framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Before, he studied and taught political economy and econometrics and worked in national and international statistical organisations.
Peter Guráň is a former member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2009- 2017). He was involved in the process of preparing the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure and was a member of the first working group for its implementation, receiving complaints from children and on behalf of children. Peter also actively participated in preparing various General Comments (n.12, 14, 20) of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
He is a sociologist and independent expert on human rights issues in Slovakia, where he is vice-chair of the National Committee on Children and Youth.
He published many monographs, research studies and articles on children rights and family life at national and international levels.
Peter is currently teaching sociology and human rights at Trnavská Univerzita in Trnava, Slovakia and actively participates in the work of the worldwide “Global Initiative of former members of the CRC”.
Maria Herczog is visiting lecturer at ELTE University Law Faculty post graduate courses and chair and program director of the Family Child Youth Association in Budapest, Hungary. She has been doing research on child welfare, child protection and on child rights and family matters for more than 30 years, and is the author of several books, book chapters and journal articles in this realm. She has been teaching child welfare and protection for different university courses since 1989. Maria is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and in the media. She has been working with UNICEF and with the Council of Europe as a temporary scientific expert since 1991, as a WHO national focal point on violence prevention since 2004.
Maria Herczog was elected as a member to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2007 and re-elected in 2010, and was the rapporteur of the Committee from 2013 to 2015. She was a board member at IFSW (1994-2000) and IFCO (1996-98), member of the EU Economic and Social Committee between 2004-2010 as a representative of the Hungarian civil society, as well as a member of the Advisory Board of the Hungarian Equal Opportunities Authority. She was elected to the Management Board of Eurochild in 2009 and presided the Board between 2010 and 2016.
Philip D. Jaffé is the Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, ( as well as a Full Professor of clinical and legal psychology. At the heart of his activities, lies the commitment to develop and promote children’s rights as a vibrant research and training academic field, as well as a rallying cause within civil society. He remains a practicing psychotherapist and a court-appointed forensic expert in complex cases involving children caught up in the civil and/or criminal justice systems.
Eva Jespersen started her UN journey of promoting people-centered development as researcher for UNICEF’s ground-breaking Adjustment with a Human Face. It inspired ‘human development’ and in turn the sustainable development agenda. Moving forward to partnership building and communication with wide audiences, Eva recently managed the Human Development Reports Office as deputy (2009-2017).
Eva applied people-centered approaches to country analysis, migration and rural development in East Asia, while also heading the regional UN team on quality assurance for CCAs; in Florence, guided the Social Monitor-CEE/CIS, and the Report Cards on children in rich countries, which made unprecedented global headlines.
Indicators and measurement stimulate debate, action and innovative approaches: Eva is proud of her inclusion in the UN Secretary General’s Expert Group on the Data Revolution. She remains passionate about social justice and the empowerment of communities and individuals to lead lives they have reason to value, within planetary boundaries.
Hanita Kosher is an associate faculty at the School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem since 2016. Her research interests include: children’s rights; children’s right to participation; children’s subjective well-being; children at-risk and child maltreatment. Since 2016, Dr. Kosher is the coordinator of the "Children’s Worlds" project, an international survey on children’s lives and well-being. Between 2007 to 2015 Dr. Kosher was the head of the education centre of the National Council for the Child, a leading advocacy organization for children’s rights in Israel.
Milorad Kovacevic is chief of statistics of the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Before joining UNDP in 2009, he has been with Statistics Canada for more than seventeen years as head of Data Analysis Methods Research. He was also teaching statistics at the University of Belgrade, Serbia and at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States. He spent two sabbatical stints doing statistical methodology research at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom) and the University of Wollongong (Australia). Milorad worked for the Federal Statistical Office of Yugoslavia as well. He has been doing research and teaching in the area of survey sampling, analysis of complex survey data, analysis of longitudinal data, estimation of inequality, polarization and poverty, finite population inference, composite measures of progress and success and international statistical comparison. Milorad holds Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Belgrade.
Gerison Lansdown was the founder director, 1992-2000, of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, and, over the past 17 years, has worked as an international children’s rights consultant and advocate, publishing and lecturing widely on the subject of children’s rights, including on children’s participation and evolving capacities. She has worked with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in the development of several General Comments, including on Articles 12 and 31, and on the rights of children during adolescence. She was actively involved in the development of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and supported the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the drafting of the General Comment on inclusive education. She has an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University, an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire, and is a senior associate of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development in Victoria. She was for nine years Vice Chair of UNICEF-UK, and, in addition to being a trustee for the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, is currently on the editorial advisory board of the Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights, and Chair of Child to Child.
Laura Lundy is co-director of the Centre for Children’s Rights and a Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is joint Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Children’s Rights. Her expertise is in children’s right to participate in decision-making and education rights. Her 2007 paper, “’Voice’ is not enough” is one of the most highly cited academic papers on children’s rights and the model of children’s participation it proposes (based on four key concepts - Space, Voice, Audience and Influence) and is used extensively in scholarship and practice. The Centre for Children’s Rights has pioneered an innovative methodology for conducting rights-based participatory research with children and Professor Lundy has extensive practical experience of applying this with children of all ages in diverse social and geographical contexts. She acts as expert advisor on child participation to Child Rights Connect and has provided advice and/or training on children’s rights to a wide range of other international organisations including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, OSCE, the Council of Europe, UNICEF, Terres des Hommes, Plan International and Save the Children.
Yehualashet Mekonen is the Head of the African Child Observatory Programme at the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), a pan-African centre for policy research and advocacy on children. Mr Mekonen has worked for more than 20 years in policy research, programme management and development of research tools and methodologies. He developed the Child-friendliness Index of African governments, a quantitative framework for measuring government’s performance in realising the rights and wellbeing of children. This composite Index is being used as an advocacy tool to promote greater commitment to children in Africa and beyond. Mr Mekonen is also the lead author of the African Report on Child Wellbeing series, a flagship biennial publication of ACPF that monitors the extent to which African governments are living up to their obligations to international and regional child rights laws. He has authored and co-authored numerous papers, articles and reports focusing on issues related to children. Before joining ACPF, Mr Mekonen was the Team Leader of Researchers at the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia. As an Independent Consultant, he has also served several non-governmental organisations, UN agencies and private firms in undertaking surveys and data analysis on a range of social, economic and governance related issues.
Benoît Parmentier, training social psychologist, is since 2008 General Administrator of the “Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance” (Birth and Childhood Bureau, ONE), the public Administration charged of policies for childhood for the French speaking Community of Belgium.
He is the actual President of the Assembly of the European Network of National Childhood Observatories, ChildONEurope, that he has also chaired from 2007 to June 2010. From 1999 to 2008 he has filled the role of Coordinator of the “Observatoire de l’Enfance, de la Jeunesse et de l’Aide à la Jeunesse” (Observatory of Childhood, Youth and Assistance to Youth) of the French speaking Community of Belgium.
Catherine Péters is project manager at the National Commission on the Rights of the Child – Belgium since 2013. In this capacity she co-authored the Commission’s project and publication on Belgian National Child Rights Indicators “Make them count” (2016). Following the recommendation issued from this first publication, she developed the methodology and led the steering committee of a project aiming at reaching the often most vulnerable children escaping data collection, more precisely aimed at children in migration and children in conflict with the law as a first stage. Together with Ms. Karen Van Laethem, she took part in every step of this project, from the elaboration of the questionnaires to the data collection and its analysis.
She formerly worked as monitoring & evaluation officer for the Belgian Development Agency in Rwanda in the context of an afforestation program. Ms. Péters holds degrees in Sciences and Political Sciences, specialized in human rights and successfully completed additional certificates in children’s rights and data sciences.
Gwyther Rees is currently a Consultant at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti where he is working on a forthcoming Report Card on equality of educational opportunities for children. He is also Research Director of the Children’s Worlds project – an international survey of children’s lives and well-being. The current wave of this research is gathering the views and experiences of children in over 40 countries across five continents. Gwyther was formerly Research Director at The Children’s Society – an NGO in England – where he was responsible for a national programme of research on children’s subjective well-being and also undertook a series of studies on the topic of the maltreatment of adolescents.
Roberta Ruggiero holds an MA in law, an MA in human rights and democratization from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization (EIUC), and a Ph.D. in children’s rights promotion and protection awarded by the University of Molise. She is senior research and teaching associate at the University of Geneva’s Centre for Children’s Rights Studies (CCRS). She is also the Academic Coordinator of the Children’s Rights European Academic Network (CREAN).
She was formerly scientific coordinator of the European Network of National Observatories on Childhood (ChildONEurope) based at the Instituto degli Innocenti (2008-2013). She was senior lecturer at the University of Padua, and external professor of children’s rights at the University of Molise. Roberta Ruggiero was also researcher at the International Organization on Migration (Europe Office) and at the UNICEF-Innocenti Research Office.
Her publications and research interests include independent human rights institutions for children, children’s rights implementation, comparative childhood governmental policies, the status of parenthood in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and children’s rights approaches to evidence-based policy.
She is member of the Committee of Experts and scientific advisor of the Cantonal Observatory of Youth of Canton Valais, Switzerland, and of the Working Group on National Child Maltreatment Data Collection of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).
Hagar Russ is a lawyer with 18 years’ experience working for international organisations, government, civil society and the private sector. She started her career as a banking lawyer for Clifford Chance LLP, structuring infrastructure projects in Europe and Africa. Hagar subsequently worked for the Government of Tanzania advising the Ministry of Justice and the Courts on civil justice and institutional reform. For the last 8 years, she has worked for UNICEF and Save the Children with a focus on children’s rights. At UNICEF (Myanmar), Hagar headed up Juvenile Justice work, and was the UN lead for children and armed conflict. She also supported revision of the child law and advised on the UPR/UNCRC reporting. At Save the Children (Bangladesh), Hagar headed up the Policy, Rights and Governance team with a portfolio of projects including child rights’ monitoring, social accountability, and policy research. She is currently working for Save the Children globally on programme quality and impact for Child Rights Governance work.
Since 2015, Beatrice Schulter is the Director of Child Rights Connect, a network, uniting more than 80 children’s rights organisations from around the world, to influence and use the UN human rights system for lasting positive change in the lives of children. Beatrice grew up in Switzerland. She studied English and Russian literature and linguistics, Pedagogy, as well as leadership and change management. After her first career as a teacher, she lived and worked in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan) and the Caucasus (Georgia) where she led projects and programmes on multilingual education, intercultural and peace education, intercultural administration and media. Upon her return to Switzerland, she developed and introduced a child rights-based approach to the education programmes of the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation, where she worked as the director of international programmes.
Mieke Schuurman is senior policy & advocacy coordinator for children’s rights and child participation for Eurochild. At Eurochild she is coordinating the work of the Eurochild member’s group of National Children’s Rights Coalitions and she is responsible for children’s participation, for which she has developed Eurochild’s internal child participation strategy and child protection policy. Before, she worked as an independent expert in the field of children’s rights and EU law and carried out assignments for various international organisations and NGOs, including the Council of Europe, European Commission, Eurochild and UNICEF. She has provided advice, carried out research and given trainings on children’s rights and has a particular expertise in children’s participation. Formerly, she was Secretary-General of the European Children’s Network (EURONET) and she has been policy assistant to a Dutch Member of the European Parliament in Brussels.
She obtained a Master Degree in Law at the University of Edinburgh (UK) and she has a degree in European Studies, obtained at the University of Amsterdam (NL).
Laura Speer is the Associate Director for Policy Reform and Advocacy at the Annie E Casey Foundation and has primary responsibility for the National KIDS COUNT Project. Laura is also a key member of the federal policy team at the foundation and manages a portfolio focused on national policy research and advocacy with a special emphasis on racial equity policy and policies impacting immigrant families. Having spent a number of years doing state- and local-level child advocacy work, Laura is now a key liaison and resource person for the KIDS COUNT network of state advocates in the US as well as a growing number of child advocates in Latin America interested in Data Based advocacy. Laura has a BA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Masters in Public Administration from New York University.
Sabine Springer is working for the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) as a Programme Manager in the Statistics and Surveys sector. In the last seven years she has been involved in the development of surveys, the analysis of data as well as the Agency’s work on fundamental rights indicators covering a wide range of issues such as Roma inclusion, child poverty, discrimination experiences of LGBTI persons and violence against women. Currently she is preparing a Fundamental Rights Survey which will collect data on people’s everyday experiences in different human rights areas. Sabine has a PhD in Demography from Bordeaux University and has worked for several years at the National Demographic Research Institute (INED) in France, where she participated in two major European Research Projects on ageing and quality of life of older people. Prior to this she worked for UN-Habitat in Kenya, where her work was focused on household composition and homelessness.
Ziba Vaghri is an Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria and Director of GlobalChild, an international children’s rights project funded by the Government of Canada. She has over three decades of research and work experience in the areas of child development and child health.
For the last 10 years, Ziba’s research program aims to bring together the traditionally disconnected fields of children’s rights and child health and development.
In 2014 Ziba received a 5-year Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award. In 2016 she was the recipient of a generous research grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. This grant has facilitated the development of the GlobalChild Program, the research program that has the goal of developing a comprehensive child rights monitoring platform grounded in a rights-based approach to child health and development.
Ziba is also the lead author and a core team member of the Early Childhood Rights Indicators (ECRI) project. ECRI is a tool for monitoring rights during early childhood, developed according to General Comment 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Joost Van Haelst works for the Flemish government of Belgium (Department of Culture, Youth and Media) since 1995. In 1997 he started working on the coordination of children’s rights issues. Within the Flemish authority he set up a network of focal points for youth and children’s rights and a consultation platform with civil society. He monitors the child and youth effect reporting or impact analysis (“JoKER”). For the Flemish government he follows up on the European and international agendas on children’s rights. He is member of the Informal expert group on children’s rights of the European Commission. He represents Belgium in the Committee ad hoc on the Rights of the Child of the Council of Europe (CAHENF). He organized with the colleagues of the French Community and the Federal Department of Justice the European Conference on the best interest of the child in December 2014, in the framework of the Belgian chairmanship of the Council of Europe. He was involved with several Belgian periodic reportings for the UN CRC Committee and Flemish plans implementing the concluding observations of the Committee. As representative of the Flemish authority he took up the vice-presidency of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child since its installation in 2007.
Benoit Van Keirsbilck is the Director of the Belgian section of Defence for Children – International (DCI) and the former President of the International Executive Council (International board) of DCI. He is one of the founders and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Centre of the Rights of the Child (CIDE) which gathers 4 universities and 2 NGOs in the Frenchspeaking part of Belgium. The CIDE organises a University degree and conducts academic researches on children’s rights. Finally, he is Chief Editor of the Journal of Children’s Law (Belgium) and member of the Advisory board of the UN Global Study on children deprived of liberty.
Since October 2016, Karen Van Laethem is the President of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child - Belgium. In this capacity, she was among others responsible for coordinating the drafting of the fifth and sixth combined periodic reports of Belgium to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. Jointly with Ms. Catherine Péters, she carried out a project on children in migration on the context of the Belgian National Indicators on the Rights of the Child. She is a guest lecturer at the UC Leuven Limburg where she teaches the human rights course.
Karen formerly worked as a Human Rights Officer for the Universal Periodic Review Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, and for the Human Rights Section of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In this capacity she worked on a number of children’s rights related projects, more precisely regarding child labour in domestic service. Karen also performed extensive human rights research for the Research Foundation – Flanders at the Free University of Brussels. She is co-author of a textbook on international human rights law and many other human and children’s rights related articles. She holds a Master’s in Law Degree from the Free University of Brussels and a Ll.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University.
Bruno Vanobbergen (1972) got his PhD in Educational Sciences at Ghent University (Belgium) in 2003 with a research on the commodification of childhood. He published several articles in international journals and books on (the history of) childhood and children’s rights. He was professor at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands) and visiting scholar at Rutgers University, Camden (USA). He is a member of the editorial board of Paedagogica Historica and Pedagogiek. In June 2009 the Flemish Parliament appointed him as the Flemish Children’s Rights Commissioner. As a Commissioner he is responsible for monitoring children’s rights in Flanders by mediating, investigating complaints and giving policy recommendations. He is a member of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC). Bruno Vanobbergen is also professor of childhood studies at Ghent University.
Christian Whalen is a native of Fredericton and holds a bachelor of arts degree (1987) from Carleton University; a bachelor of law degree (1989) from the University of New Brunswick; and a diplôme d’études approfondies (1993) from l’Université Robert Schuman in Strasbourg, France. Following his call to the bar in Ontario and New Brunswick, Mr. Whalen worked as a lawyer in private practice and as legal counsel to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission before joining the Office of the Ombudsman in 2005 as legal counsel. He has been responsible for systemic investigations and acted as lead investigator on several reports of the Office of Ombudsman and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, including Connecting the Dots, Hand-in-Hand and Staying Connected. He was also the project lead on the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s annual State of our Children and Youth reports and a lead developer of the Children’s Rights and Well-being Framework. He served as Acting Child and Youth Advocate for New Brunswick from April 1, 2011 to August 1, 2013. He founded and serves as secretary to the Working Group on Children’s rights in the Francophonie and is founding chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Sections Council Committee on Children’s Law. He is the New Brunswick site lead and a principal applicant in the ACCESS Open Minds grant, a million SPOR initiative of CIHR to transform mental health services to young Canadians. In 2014 he received the Children’s Rights Champion Award from the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children and in 2015 was awarded the John Tait Award for distinguished service as public sector counsel by the Canadian Bar Association.

Presenter - Plenary Session

Jana Kerremans(1984, Leuven, Belgium) is currently Head of Business Management at Kazerne Dossin, Memorial, Museum and Research Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights in Mechelen, Belgium. She has been a member of advisory boards on cultural heritage and participatory arts for years. She is a passionate freelance panel host/presenter (DU, FR, ENG, SP) and copywriter for travel guides Time to Momo.
As a moderator/presenter/interviewer and panel leader, Jana gets a thrill out of managing a deeply empathic and engaging panel discussion, always aiming at bringing the best out of guests and interviewees. Passionate about museum practice, social change, human rights, heritage, business innovation, arts, philosophy, sociology and urbanism, she’s always eager to learn more about your guests specialisms, and to explore and prepare their expert topics thoroughly.
During the off-hours you’ll find her buried knee-deep in literature and music, indulging in art house movie theatres, strolling through a museum or wandering in the woods.

Moderators and graphic recorders

Ela Jakubek-Grootjans is an international trainer and facilitator since 2010. She started her involvement with facilitation in Don Bosco Youth-Net. Since then she has facilitated for the European Youth Forum, the Council of Europe Youth Department and the North-South Centre, the European Commission, as well as a number of local and international NGO’s. She is fascinated by individuals’ and groups’ potential.
Sven Retoré has been facilitating international groups since 2007. He has gained a wide experience facilitating for several international institutions such as the European Commission, the Council of Europe as well as several national governments and NGO’s. He enjoys bringing a creative and humoristic tone to working groups while still having the needed outcomes clear in mind.

Note takers

Marine Braun is juvenile justice expert at the Belgian section of Defence for Children International. She started defending human rights as a criminal defence lawyer as a member of the Brussels bar association over a 4 year period, later orienting her career towards children’s rights, she became an active member of DCI International: first in Argentina (2012) and then in Belgium (2014 and 2016). She also held a post as Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality associate at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Morocco. Marine was a researcher and legal officer in the European project Children’s Rights Behind Bars and is currently the project coordinator of the European project My Lawyer, My Rights within DCI-Belgium.
Wendy De Bondt studied both law (2006) and criminology (2007) before obtaining a PhD in Law (2012). She is a professor of Children’s rights, juvenile justice and criminal law at Ghent University.
She has been a member of the Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy for over 10 years and participated in a wide variety of research projects looking into the development and functioning of European criminal policy. She has published widely on aspects of both substantive as well as procedural criminal law. Her PhD study focused on the legal diversity between the EU member states and the impact thereof on both the European criminal policy domain as well as other policy domains.
Today she continues her research lines on substantive criminal law, from a national, a comparative as well as from a European perspective and combines that with the new domain of the rights of the child. The Children’s Rights research she coordinates, focusses amongst others on the ways to guarantee the rights of children who are confronted with one or more parents involved in criminal proceedings and the rights of children who are victim of cross-border crimes such as international parental abductions.
Her full list of publications is available at: