Joint Position Paper by NGOs on a Comprehensive Child Rights Strategy

Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen has entrusted Vice President for Democracy and Demography to launch a comprehensive Child Rights Strategy. The upcoming Child Rights Strategy is expected to be launched at the beginning of 2021. 

The partners of the Child Rights Action Group together with Unicef developed the Joint Position Paper on a Comprehensive Child Rights Strategy. The joint position paper has been endorsed by 29 organisations. 

As a key principle, the Strategy should be aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the promise of the UN 2030 Agenda to leave no child behind. It should be relevant for all children globally, paying attention to those in the most vulnerable situations and facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. At the same time, the Strategy must be mandatory for all EU institutions, mainstreaming children’s rights in all internal and external EU policies, actions and programmes. To ensure its implementation, the Strategy must be action oriented, monitored, and properly financed by EU and national financial resources. Children should be an integral part of the design and implementation of the Strategy. 

The priorities presented in the position paper are structured around the political guidelines of the 2019-2024 European Commission, making sure that children’s rights are mainstreamed in EU’s main priorities. Therefore, we are calling on the EU Institutions for:

  • An economy that works for children
  • An inclusive approach to protecting children in accordance with EU fundamental rights 
  • A stronger Europe for all children in the world, 
  • Defending children’s rights in a world fit for the digital age 
  • A role for children in the European Green Deal, 
  • A new push for rights-based, meaningful, and inclusive child participation in European democracy.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying measures put in place to control it are compounding structural weaknesses in child protection and welfare systems. In the long-term the impact of the crisis will test the capacity of vulnerable families to care for their children leading to a likely increase in the numbers of children in need of alternative care, many of whom risk being institutionalised. The crisis highlights the need for comprehensive investment in children and in protection of their rights. 

The position paper calls for the Strategy to support a child protection system-strengthening approach, including prevention and early intervention to tackle all forms of violence against children. EU investments should be adapted to the needs of children and, among others, focus on preventing family separation, promoting and supporting reunification and prioritise family-based and community-based care options for all children, focusing on particularly vulnerable groups. 

The position paper includes a consideration of the importance of pushing for rights-based, meaningful and inclusive child participation in democracy. Children’s rights-based participation in public and democratic decision-making contributes to building effective democracies from childhood onwards.  

COPE, as a partner of the Child Rights Action Group, looks forward to the upcoming Child Rights Strategy and hopes that the priorities presented in the position paper are incorporated. 

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