The EU and children’s rights

The EU is fully committed to the comprehensiveprotection and promotion of the rights of the child. Tackling poverty, protecting children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, ensuring their overall wellbeing and access to quality basic services such as health, education, water and sanitation, are among our priorities worldwide. The EU ensures a comprehensive approach to children's rights by supporting specific issues and by ensuring that children's rights and needs are mainstreamed in all our policies and programmes.

The EU’s commitment to protecting children is underlined in the EU Guidelines on the Rights of the Child revision will be carried out in 2016. The EU is also committed to promoting the ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols.

2016 is an important year for international development. Work will begin on the process of implementation of the Agenda 2030for Sustainable Development

Today, children make upmore than half of the populationin most developing countries and by 2050 one in every three children will be born in sub-Saharan Africa. There cannot be sustainable development without respect for children's rights and investing in children is critical to breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty.

Before the adoption of the Agenda 2030, the EU and UNICEF had already embarked upon the ambitious project of creating a tool which would ensure that child rights are mainstreamed throughout development programming, budgeting, policy-making and law-making. The "EU-UNICEF Child Rights Toolkit: Integrating child rights in development cooperation"is the result of this fruitful cooperation. There are very few child-neutral projects or programmes, most have an impact on children directly or indirectly, positively or negatively, whether we consider the more obvious areas of cooperation such as education and health or other sectors that are perceived as less child-sensitive such as infrastructure, agriculture, energy, climate change or environment.  Moreover, many sectors are very often interlinked.

The EU will continue the implementation of its Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019). There are many actions on children in this Action Plan,in particular, the EU will support partner countries' efforts to strengthen child protection systems to protect children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. There are also important actions to tackle issues such as children in armed conflict, child labour and harmful practices.

The EU uses a combination of policy dialogue, development cooperation and trade incentives to promote and protect the rights of the child. Children are systematically raised during dialogues with non-EU countries. The EU uses these fora to call on partner countries to ratify relevant international conventions, lift reservations, adopt or revise national legislation, identify areas where technical assistance could be helpful and to promote good practices.

Financial support for children is provided by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), and the 2014-2020 Global Public Goods and Challenges programme(GPGC) of the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). Priorities under the child wellbeing chapter includeviolence against children, harmful practices and social norms, identity for children, child labour and social inclusion and access to justice.

The EU regularly tables resolutions on children's rights at the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly Third Committee and works in close cooperation with civil society, UN bodies such as the UNICEF and the ILO and regional organisations.