POND ISLAND/SABA--The Task Force Intercountry Children’s Rights will offer tools for this during the three-day “Our Children, Our Future Conference” on St. Maarten and Saba which starts today, Monday, with a reception.

  During the first two days of the conference on St. Maarten, on Tuesday May 21 and Wednesday May 22, youth care workers, policy makers and other professionals who work with children will discuss the latest developments and tools regarding child protection. From healthy food to youth criminal law to the risks of gaming. The experts representing all islands and countries of the Kingdom, will learn and connect. Positive examples will be exchanged.

  Some 150 persons will participate in the conference, which takes place at the University of St. Martin (USM). Contributions from throughout the Kingdom will be made in the form of keynote speakers, hands-on workshops and the sharing of best practices. The United Nations Children Fund UNICEF will also be a partner of this conference. The conference is a joint effort of the St. Maarten Government, the Public Entity Saba and the Dutch Government. A special element this year is that the third day of the conference, Thursday May 23, will take place on Saba.

  On Saba, the policy makers of the six Dutch Caribbean islands/countries and the European Netherlands will discuss how the islands and countries of the Kingdom can further enhance their cooperation. The input of the first two conference days on St. Maarten will be used on Saba to arrive at agreements for the care of domestic violence victims and child abuse, the sharing of expertise and the setting up of opportunities for education. The conference’s last day on Saba will have 25 participants from all parts of the Kingdom, and will be chaired by Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, with Island Secretary Tim Muller as moderator.

  The conference is an initiative of the Intercountry Task Force Children’s Rights. This is the fourth time that the conference is held. In this task force, Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba and the Netherlands work together to improve the rights of children.

  Task force Chairman Miosotis Yearwood from Curaçao: “All children in the Kingdom should be able to grow up healthy and safe, and be able to develop themselves. That is the joint assignment of the Intercountry Task Force Children’s Rights and stems from the International Children’s Rights Convention. Prevention is the key word: if we work on the front part to make sure that children grow up safe and healthy, they will develop into happy citizens of the world, and we give them the best chance at success.”

  The Intercountry Task Force was established in 2014 to jointly tackle children’s rights issues. The improving of children’s rights requires a solid cooperation between parents, government and organizations. The Task Force assists the islands/countries to make that connection. And, connects the key players through an annual conference. The six islands/countries last year drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as well as action plans. During the upcoming conference, the action plans will be further developed.

  Yearwood of Curaçao is the task force’s chairman. The other members are: Sacha Geerman (Aruba), Soraya Agard (St. Maarten), Dirkje de Groot (Statia), Christopher Frans (Bonaire), Krijn Pons (Saba), Rachel Crowe (Ministry of BZK, the Netherlands) and Job Tanis (Ministry of VWS, the Netherlands).