Children and young people have the same human rights as adults and must be recognised as full rights holders. Moreover, children are entitled to additional rights due to their special needs and vulnerabilities to exploitation and abuse. The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely supported international treaty, ratified by all but one UN member state. It lays out the specific rights of children, from the rights to life, survival and development to the rights to education, quality health care, leisure and play, to the right to be protected from violence and to be heard on all matters affecting the child.
States have committed themselves to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights and to make all necessary efforts to ensure that all children, not just the privileged few, enjoy basic qualities of life and can reach their full potential. The Council of Europe has significantly contributed to the protection of children through the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Committee of Social Rights as well as through the adoption of important standards such as relating to adoption, child exploitation, juvenile justice or children in institutions.
Yet, children's rights continue to be violated across the European continent and many children, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities, find themselves without protection from exploitation and abuse. Levels of child poverty have been rising steadily and children and young people are increasingly affected by homelessness.
The protection of the rights of children is high on the agenda of the Commissioner for Human Rights. She regularly visits care institutions, schools, facilities where children are detained, places where children live in precarious conditions, and organisations providing services to children. As part of her mandate, the Commissioner addresses recommendations to national authorities on how they could improve their records on children's rights.
The Commissioner has identified three areas of concern to which she devotes specific attention: 1) the human rights situation of migrant children, especially unaccompanied minor migrants; 2) the right of children to be heard and to have their views given due weight in all matters affecting the child; and 3) the rising levels of child poverty and social exclusion.
- DH-BIO Seminar: “Early intervention on intersex children – protecting the rights of the child” (2022)
- Building a Europe for and with children
A Council of Europe programme covering the social, legal, educational and health dimensions relevant to protecting children and promoting their rights.
- European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) - http://enoc.eu
- UNICEF - www.inclusive-education.org
- UNESCO - http://en.unesco.org/themes/inclusion-in-education
- Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) - http://fra.europa.eu/en/theme/rights-child
- UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) - www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/crc/Pages/CRCIndex.aspx
- Positions on combating school segregation through inclusive education (2017)
also available in: Albanian | Bosnian | Croatian | Czech | French | Macedonian | Spanish
- Positions on children's rights (2010)
- Positions on the rights of minor migrants in an irregular situation (2010)
Janusz Korczak, the Child's Right to Respect (2009)
Five eminent children's rights activists analyse current problems in the Korczak lectures. They focused on participation, children's best interest, children in out-of-home care, corporal punishment as well as children and prison. To order the book: book.coe.int
- Annual Report 2022: Commissioner Mijatović calls for renewed commitment to human rights protection to address numerous systemic problems
- Urgent action needed to reunite Ukrainian children transferred to Russia and Russian-occupied territories with their families
- United Kingdom: Commissioner warns against regression on human rights, calls for concrete steps to protect children’s rights and to tackle human rights issues in Northern Ireland
- Germany should pursue efforts to fully ensure children’s rights
- Bosnia and Herzegovina must urgently improve its migrant reception capacities, improve access to asylum and protect unaccompanied migrant children
- The Republic of Moldova should ratify the Istanbul Convention, improve its response to hate speech and advance access to quality healthcare, affordable housing and social inclusion for all
- Beyond the Horizon: A New Era for the Rights of the Child
- Hearing of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the cases of H.F. and M.F. v. France and J.D. and A.D. v. France
- Council of Europe Conference to mark the European Day against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children