Building a Europe for and with children

Deputy Secretary General welcoming HRH the Princess of Hanover to the Assembly debate  preceding the launch ceremony


Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

I am really delighted to be here today to mark the European launch of the UN Study on Violence against children, which was presented at the UN General Assembly on 11 October last year, and which has led to the recent adoption of UN Resolution 60/231 on the Rights of the child.

This Study is a landmark, from a number of perspectives. Let me at this point pay tribute to Paulo Pinheiro, whose commitment, competence, expertise and high quality work have been instrumental to the finalisation of this Study. First, the methodology used for its preparation was inclusive and based on the experience and particularities of the world’s regions. We at the Council of Europe have had the privilege to lead the Europe and Central Asia region in this effort. This has enabled the independent expert to take into account the specificities of the world’s region.

Second, the Study is comprehensive. For the first time all aspects of violence against children are included in a single document which provides a full (and not encouraging I am afraid) picture of the situation of violence against children around the world, in the family, in residential institutions, at school and in the community (except children in armed conflicts) and in cyberspace.

Third, it is a forward-looking Study. It contains concrete recommendations on how to remedy the situation which we, at the Council of Europe, intend to implement in the European region through our Programme “Building a Europe for and with children”. In some respect, Europe has gone (for instance as regards corporal punishment with reference to the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the decisions of the European Committee on Social Rights), and can go further, setting a worldwide example.

This Council of Europe Programme “for and with children” can easily be remembered with the 4Ps: promotion of children’s rights, protection of children against violence, participation of children, and prosecution of perpetrators of violence.

Some of the main highlights of the Programme will include:

• completion of the ground-breaking draft Convention against sexual exploitation and abuse;

• the development of national strategies to promote children’s rights and protect children against violence;

• devising a methodology for the meaningful participation of children in the decision-making processes;

• a progressive ban on corporal punishment in Europe;

• strengthening co-operation with Unicef: the joint declaration signed this morning between the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Executive Director of Unicef is the first step in this direction.

As you can see, we at the Council of Europe do not organise “tea-parties” or “big media-oriented gatherings”: we draw up concrete measures to promote children’s rights and want to ensure that our work makes a real difference for children.

However, this will be impossible without the cooperation with non-governmental organisations. Let me therefore take the occasion of the presence here today of Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline of Hanover to warmly congratulate her personally, and the World Association of Children’s Friends (AMADE), for all they do concretely to help children in distress around the world.

“Children are not mini persons with mini rights”; I like to repeat at every occasion I talk about this. Children’s rights concern us all and help to make Europe grow. Let’s work together to build a Europe for and with children, not only as children are our future, but first and foremost as they are our present. Thank you Professor Pinheiro for having reminded us thereof.