Children’s Day: Korczak COE’s appeal

“Children have the right to be heard
and adults should listen to their views”

Commissioner Hammarberg in WarsawOn the occasion of The International Children’s Day, as announced on this site, the Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg came especially to Warsaw following the footsteps of Janusz Korczak to deliver an important political speech for the recognition of active children’s rights, calling for his work to serve as a model in ensuring that children are actively involved in decision making processes. [© Foundation Shalom]

The ceremony was organized by the Shalom Foundation in cooperation with Council of Europe, the Capital City of Warsaw, the Polish Janusz Korczak Association as well as with the Korczakianum Centre for Documentation and Research. The meeting was organized under the Patronage of Mayor of the Capital City of Warsaw, Mrs. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz.

After reading a message from the President of Poland Mr. Lech Kaczyński, and an introduction by the Director of the Shalom Foundation - Mrs. Gołda Tencer, the President of the Polish Janusz Korczak Association - Mrs. Jadwiga Bińczycka expressed the readiness of the Polish and the International Janusz Korczak’s Associations to promote the ideas of Janusz Korczak in Europe and in the whole world.

Among the Representatives of Ministries, Diplomacy and Embassies arrived to the meeting and other major guests, there were also the children from "Dom Sierot", the first Janusz Korczak’s orphanage still open in Jaktorowska Street in Warsaw, and the youth from a secondary school in Busko Zdrój.

A message by Irena Sendler, the person who saved 2.500 Jewish children during the 2nd WW, was shown during the meeting. There was also a theatre performance based on lyrics by Janusz Korczak titled "Warsaw is Mine and I am Warsaw’s”, presented by actors and actresses of the Jewish Theatre in Warsaw. The event was accompanied by an exhibition of books by Janusz Korczak, translated into many languages of the world.

Commissioner Hammarberg in WarsawAfter visiting the Janusz Korczak historical places in the centre of the city (the ghetto and Korczak memorial), The Commissioner Hammarberg made his lecture inside the walls of Dom Sierot. He payed a lengthy tribute to Janusz Korczak’s achievements and called for “a culture of greater receptivity and respect for children’s views”.
[© Council of Europe]

The Commissioner underlined that “children have the right to be heard and adults should listen to their views”. Child participation, which is a right recognised by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, should take place at every stage of life, in family, in schools as well as in the community. “Children’s capacity to express freely their views is a precondition for their development” he said.

The Commissioner stressed that children should be involved in on all matters that affect their lives, adding that “decision making bodies should organise a system where children have the possibility to express their views. This concerns national Governments, Parliaments, local and regional authorities, as well as international organisations”.

Since media plays an increasing role in our society, “the media also have a key role in making children’s views known to the public at large.” Mr Hammarberg also added that “mass media could do more to inform children in a way which is appropriate to their age”.

The day before [19/11/2007], in his latest “Viewpoint”, the Commissioner had payed tribute to Janusz Korczak, a pioneer of children’s rights, and called for his work to serve as a model in ensuring that children are actively involved in decision making processes. "All sides stand to gain of adults learn to support children in the exercise of their rights", said Thomas Hammarberg.

His full speech and Viewpoint are available at the Commissioner’s website (see below).
IJKnews Team

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote the awareness of and respect for human rights in 47 Council of Europe member states. Website:

Read the Commissioner's Warsaw keynote speech:
- In English
- In French

Read the Commissioner’s « Viewpoint » about Korczak:
- In English
- In French
- In Russian (in Word format)
• 20/11/06 at Strasbourg, the first Korczak ceremony in the Council of Europe

• More on Janusz Korczak:
- Korczakianum
- English website:
- Polish website:

• Press and media:
- IJKnews [19-11-2007]: Commissioner Hammarberg pay tribute to Korczak in Warsaw
- AFJK (French Korczak Association) report [21-11-07]: Les idées de Korczak entrent au Conseil de l'Europe
- Shalom report [26-1-07]: The first Janusz Korczak lecture organized by the Shalom Foundation

• Sources and Credits
- Excerpts from the summary of the ceremony and photo no 1: Fundacja Shalom:
- Excerpts from the summary of the speech and photo nos 2:

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