The EU and children’s rights

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The EU and children’s rights – child brushing his teeth © EUThe EU and children’s rights – child brushing his teeth © EU

As some of the most vulnerable members of society, children require particular protection. EU programmes and activities address such threats as violence against children, armed conflict and child labour.

Protecting children in third countries is the focus of the 2008 Communication entitled ‘A special place for children in EU external action ’. The paper emphasises how the protection and promotion of children’s rights must be seen as part of all external relations policies.

The EU’s commitment to protecting children is underlined in the ‘EU Guidelines on the Rights of the Child ’. Violence against children is outlined as the first priority; the document outlines action points to guide the EU as it tackles the problem.

When violence breaks out, children are at risk at many levels. The EU Guidelines on Children in Armed Conflict commit the EU to addressing the impact of armed conflicts on children in a comprehensive and systematic manner.

A combination of policy dialogue, development cooperation and trade incentives are used by the EU as it plays its part in working towards the internationally agreed goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016.

The rights of children are systematically raised during dialogues with non-EU countries; the EU calls on partner countries to ratify relevant international conventions and lift reservations, adopt or revise national legislation, identify areas where technical assistance could be helpful and promote good practices.

Financial support comes from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the Investing in People programme and other thematic and geographical programmes.

The EU is actively involved in actions at multilateral level. For example, it regularly tables resolutions on children rights at the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly Third Committee. Close cooperation has also been established with UNICEF and civil society groups.