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Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child

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The European Commission proposes a strategy to effectively promote and safeguard the rights of the child in the European Union's internal and external policies and to support Member States' efforts in this field.

ACT

Commission communication of 4 July 2006 - Towards an EU strategy on the rights of the child [COM(2006) 367 - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Children's * rights form an integral part of the human rights that the EU is bound to respect under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, the Millennium Development Goals and the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). In addition, the EU explicitly recognised children's rights in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Children's rights are still far from being generally respected, and there are still cases of basic childhood needs not being met, such as the right to an adequate diet, basic medical care and education. Moreover, many children are put to forced labour, are victims of human trafficking, or are involved in armed conflicts as child soldiers.

The specific problems found in the EU include social exclusion of Roma children, child trafficking, child pornography on the Internet, and the administering to children of drugs not previously subjected to specific tests.

Building on its long-standing tradition and commitment with regard to human rights in general and children's rights in particular, the EU has the necessary weight to push children's rights to the forefront of the international agenda and to encourage specific attention to children's needs, drawing on Europe's values of social protection and on the other programmes it is implementing.

In this document, the European Commission proposes a strategy for protecting the rights of the child within the framework of the EU's internal and external policies. This strategy is based on the following specific objectives:

  • taking advantage of existing policies and instruments;
  • establishing the priorities of future EU action;
  • systematically taking the rights of the child into account in all EU external and internal policies ("mainstreaming");
  • ensuring efficient coordination and consultation mechanisms;
  • reinforcing competence and expertise on the rights of the child;
  • communicating more effectively on the rights of the child;
  • promoting the rights of the child in the field of external relations.

In order to attain these objectives, this strategy envisages a number of measures, namely:

  • setting up one single six-digit telephone number (beginning with 116) within the EU for child helplines, as well as a number for a hotline dedicated to missing and sexually exploited children;
  • support for the banking sector and credit card companies in combating the use of credit cards when purchasing sexual images of children on the Internet;
  • launching an Action Plan on Children in Development Cooperation;
  • publication of a consultation document with a view to identifying actions to be implemented in the future;
  • setting up a European Forum for the Rights of the Child and an online discussion platform;
  • involving children in the decision-making process;
  • development of a communication strategy on the rights of the child, helping both children and their parents to improve their knowledge of these rights.

The Commission is committed to allocating the resources needed for the measures proposed in this Communication and for future strategy. A progress report will be presented every year.

Key terms used in the act
Child: any person under 18 years of age.

Key terms used in the act
  • Children in the world: 2.2 billion.
  • Children living in developing countries: 86% of the total number. These countries also account for 95% of those who die before reaching the age of five, who do not have access to primary education or who are victims of forced labour or sexual abuse.
  • One third of all children suffer from malnutrition during the first five years of their life. One sixth, mostly girls, don't go to primary school.
  • Over 10 million children under five die each year from illnesses that could easily be prevented or treated.
  • One billion children have impeded physical, intellectual and/or psychological development.
  • 218 million children are put to forced labour.
  • 1.2 million children are victims of human trafficking.
  • 300 000 children are involved in armed conflicts as child soldiers.
  • Over 200 million children live with a serious disability.
  • 140 million children are orphans.

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 February 2008 - A Special Place for Children in EU external action [COM(2008) 55 final - not published in the Official Journal].
8. This communication contributes to establishing an action plan for children in the EU's external action, based on a holistic approach which takes into account the different facets of the problem and which draws on humanitarian, development, security and human rights policies. It complements the "EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child", adopted by the Council on 10 December 2007, which provide the foundation for EU action to protect and promote the rights of the child in its external policy.

Last updated: 21.03.2008

See also

To find out more, please visit the website of the Directorate-General for Justice, Freedom and Security.

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