Ms Valeria Setti, European Commission Coordinator for the Rights of the Child and Ms Regina Jensdottir, Head of the Children’s Rights Division and Coordinator for the Rights of the Child at the Council of Europe.
The conference provided a very good opportunity to highlight the coherence and convergence between the EU and the Council of Europe’s respective standards of protection for the rights of the child, as well as the great willingness of both organisations to strengthen their cooperation and synergies in this field. The speakers made clear that the newly adopted EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the upcoming respective Council of Europe Strategy are in very close alignment and will complement each other along the way, building on their respective strengths.
Two European-level Strategies for the Rights of the Child: What Added Value for us?
Ms Setti and Ms Jensdottir stressed that having comprehensive strategic frameworks at a European level increases the visibility of children, particularly those in vulnerable situations. It also facilitates the pooling of resources, allows for the pioneering of new working methods and fosters effective cooperation amongst a whole host of different actors. The speakers did not miss the opportunity to highlight the advantages these strategies have in securing political commitment at state level and guaranteeing states’ ownership of the process of implementation of actions on the rights of the child.
Objectives and Deliverables of the EU and Council of Europe Respective Strategies
Ms Setti outlined six main thematic priorities of the new EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child, namely ensuring child participation in political and democratic debate, providing for proper socio-economic inclusion for children, adequate prevention and responses to violence in all its forms, child-friendly justice, protection of children in the digital environment and the global, external dimension of child protection. The Commission Coordinator for the Rights of the Child also stressed that the document puts forward 40 concrete actions to launch before the end of the current Commission mandate, amongst which most notably the EU Child Guarantee to grant access to basic services for children in need.
The six core objectives of the new EU Strategy are in close alignment with those of the forthcoming Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child. As reported by Ms Jensdottir, the latter will focus on: combating violence against children, ensuring equal opportunities, the safe use of digital technologies, child-friendly justice, child participation, and the protection of children in crisis and emergency situations. She further stressed that the new Strategy will seek to implement existing standards, but will also try to innovate, with a particular focus on more complex situations, such as child human rights defenders, sex and relationship education, or situations where parents are involved in drug abuse, to name but a few.
How will Content Differences Affect the Implementation of the Two Strategies?
When asked whether discrepancies between the documents could make it difficult for EU Member States to implement both strategies, the two speakers reiterated that to a large extent the two frameworks mirror each other in the scope of their key thematic priorities and the existing differences will only provide the necessary space for each of the two organisations to do what they know best in a spirit of complementarity.
Children’s Rights are Everybody’s Business!
This is why we need to step up our efforts to promote children’s rights in all their dimensions. The EU Delegation, in cooperation with the Permanent Representations of Andorra and San Marino to the Council of Europe have just launched a new cultural diplomacy project ‘My Rights, My Voice’. It will feature video projects produced by children aged 10 to 17 from across the EU, Andorra and San Marino, reflecting children’s understanding of their own rights. Join in!
You can find more information on the call for projects, as well as specific instructions for participation here.