Protecting the rights of migrant and refugee children is a key priority of the Council of Europe, and an area particularly targeted for action in its Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016-2021) and the Secretary General's proposal for priority actions (4 March 2016).

As stated in the Strategy, “children on the move, or otherwise affected by migration, remain one of the most vulnerable groups in Europe today”. Giving focus to the precarious situation of unaccompanied children, it highlights that “migrant children at large, even when accompanied by parents, often suffer persistent violations of their human rights”. The purpose of the Strategy is to illustrate a series of important gaps and problems which result in children falling through the loopholes of child protection/frameworks and/or children’s rights being violated, all of which need to be addressed.

The Council of Europe’s Action Plan on protecting refugee and migrant children (2017-2019) was adopted by the 47 member States of the Organisation at the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers in Nicosia, Cyprus, on the 19 May 2017.

Co-ordinated by the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Boček, the Action Plan addresses the primary concerns identified in the Thematic Report on migrant and refugee children.

The Action Plan focuses on three key pillars to ensure the better protection of children:

  • Ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures.
  • Providing effective protection.
  • Enhancing the integration of children into host societies.

The Children’s Rights Division will carry out and support a number of the activities foreseen in the Action Plan, such as the development of new guidelines on age assessment and guardianship, a handbook on promoting child-friendly information, and training on child-friendly procedures.

The Committee of Ministers instructed the Ad hoc Committee for the Rights of the Child (CAHENF) (126th Session, May 2016), to propose further priority actions to ensure that special measures and safeguards are in place to protect unaccompanied and other children affected by the migrant and refugee crisis, in particular concerning standards on legal guardianship, age assessment and protective measures against trafficking in human beings.

In addition to the Parliamentary Assembly End Immigration Detention of Children Campaign, the targeted work of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, and the Urgent monitoring round currently completed by the Lanzarote Committee on the protection of children affected by the refugee crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, numerous other sectors of the Council of Europe have used their respective potential to contribute to the protection of the rights of the children affected by the crisis.

Migration-related activities Migration-related activities
News on migration News on migration

Final conference of the Parliamentary Campaign to end detention of migrant children

26 June 2019 Strasbourg

The Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children is hosting its final conference. This event will sum up the work done by the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons and the Council of Europe Children’s Rights Division in the framework of the Campaign since...

Read More

Hungarian authorities have not done enough to protect migrant children from sexual abuse along Serbian-Hungarian border

6 June 2019 Strasbourg

A report adopted today by the Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (“Lanzarote Committee”) “deplores” the lack of effective measures taken to protect migrant and asylum-seeking children from sexual...

Read More

Council of Europe-UNHCR seminar on protecting refugee and migrant children in Portugal

27-28 May 2019 Lisbon, Portgal

Key stakeholders from the Council of Europe, UNHCR (the United Nation’s refugee agency) and national experts from Portugal gathered in Lisbon for a seminar to discuss the “Effective Protection of Refugee and Migrant Children in Portugal”. The two-day event, organised jointly by the Council of...

Read More

Hear us out! Children in migration speak out about age assessment

27 May 2019 Strasbourg

Children who have undergone age assessment generally do not know that they have rights. This is among the main findings of a new report published by the Council of Europe on children’s experiences with age assessment. The report is based on the outcome of consultations with 52 unaccompanied...

Read More

A training session organised by the Council of Europe

“Monitoring places where migrant children are deprived of their liberty: how to conduct an effective visit?”

28-29 March 2019 Paris, France

The administrative detention of migrant and other children and conditions of deprivation of liberty pose serious challenges to the realisation of their rights. The Council of Europe 2016-2021 Strategy for the rights of the child acknowledges these challenges, and the children’s rights division...

Read More