Share your experiences and thoughts on children’s rights in times of austerity!


Thorbjørn Jagland / Secretary General of the Council of Europe

 When it comes to austerity, those with the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden. Children and young people should not pay the price.

Regina Jensdottir / Head of the Children’s Rights Division of the Council of Europe


It is extremely important to understand that children are bearers of rights. This is also one of the key messages of the Council of Europe’s human rights work related to children. Human rights of children are protected by international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter. These treaties require States to make human rights a reality for all children. Governments need to make sure that children’s rights are not compromised in times of austerity.

Children’s Rights Division

Nils Muižnieks / Council of Europe Commissionner for Human Rights


Young people should be empowered to assert their rights. This requires strengthening awareness of human rights and opportunities for effective participation in social, economic, cultural and political life. We have to be sure that being young does not become an obstacle to the full exercise of human rights during the crisis and that young people can participate in national decision-making to voice their needs, hopes and fears.

 Council of Europe Commissionner for Human Rights  

Anne Brasseur / President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

A growing number of children in Europe are trapped in “cycles of disadvantage”, even more so in times of economic constraints. The Parliamentary Assembly regularly calls on European parliaments and governments to guarantee equal opportunities to all children and provides very hands-on recommendations in this respect. Political decision-makers should ensure that children’s needs are understood and met, and the exhibition Austerity Bites: Children’s Voices is an excellent tool for giving children a voice and I do hope that many will hear what they have to say!

Martin Ayres / Director, Caged Beastie


Austerity Bites: Children’s Voices” gave young people a dynamic way to express their views about real issues affecting their lives. Austerity measures have had a profound effect on the young people involved in the project and it was hugely rewarding to work with them to give their stories life through the medium of film. The project illustrates how creativity can become a vehicle for advocacy and social change.


Sally Holland / Children's Commissionner for Wales


What's most striking for me is that austerity has impacted more on children than any other group. In our wealthy nation, too many of our most vulnerable children are denied an adequate home, a secure supply of nourishing food and access to the opportunities in life enjoyed by their wealthier peers.

Tam Baillie / Chair of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People

Nils Muižnieks

The stories that the children and young people have so powerfully expressed through Austerity Bites contain clear messages and these messages should be listened to with care, compassion and responsibility by decision makers.
Child poverty is not inevitable. However, current estimates show that relative child poverty in Europe is set to increase due to the impact of austerity measures suffered by the poorest people in society. Under current government policies, child poverty is rising and this upward trend is expected to continue.  Poverty is an overarching issue that has an impact upon all aspects of children’s lives. This is well documented: low birth weight; poor mental health; poor educational achievement; shortened life expectancy, and many others.
As the impact of austerity measures bite into the realisation of children’s rights here in Europe and across the world, there has never been a more important time for governments to take a rights-based approach.Every child has the right to live with dignity, equality, autonomy and freedom.


Leda Koursoumba / Cypriot Commissioner for Children´s Rights


This project has successfully brought us before realities that exist in children’s lives, caused by the imposition of austerity measures in European countries. It is, indeed, a fact that, only by looking at austerity measures through the eyes of a child, we realize the versatility of their impact on their lives. Economic crisis is more than just deprivation of goods. Unfortunately, it restricts and compromises the implementation of children´s rights, leading children to undertake roles incompatible for their age. Most sadly, it may result in the loss of hope, dreams, habits that brighten up their childhood with joy and laughter. Thus, we, members of ENOC, as Independent Children´s Rights Institutions, should help them raise their voice and strengthen up awareness in order for the Government and stakeholders to realize that austerity measures should never result in violation of children´s rights.

Bruno Vanobbergen / Flemish Children’s Rights Commissioner


36 young voices from different European countries show us how austerity measures had and continue to have an impact on so many aspects of their daily live. As ombudspersons for children and young people we struggle to be a megaphone for these voices in order to ensure child and youth policies fully take the best interests of all children into account.

Margaret Tuite / Children’s Rights Coordinator, European Commission


The short films convey stark messages on the impact on children of austerity cuts that hit the most vulnerable children the hardest. I am glad that the European Union funded ENOC’s work, but more collective work is needed.

Juris Jansons /  Ombudsman of the Republic of Latvia


The crisis has affected children’s basic needs. High rates of unemployment have lead to the inability to cope with credit obligations, which in its turn leads to housing loss. Another problem is economic migration: parents are forced to leave the country in search of work and leave their children with relatives. If parents cannot come back, children are forced to grow without their parents.

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