"On 20 November, we mark Universal Children’s Day.
This is an opportunity to promote the rights of children around the world, and particularly in our member States, and raise awareness with regard to the plight of the many children in vulnerable situations and in need of protection.
The European Convention on Human Rights and other important Council of Europe legal standards provide our 47 member States with a sound legal basis to protect and promote the rights of 150 million children across Europe.
On this occasion, I want to highlight the situation of migrant and refugee children in particular, who are among the most vulnerable persons in Europe today. These children, often unaccompanied or separated from their families whilst on the move, find themselves in particularly precarious situations. They are at high risk of abuse, violence and exploitation, including sexual violence, by smugglers, traffickers or other criminals. Member States have a responsibility to protect these children and to ensure respect for their human rights.
I want to underline that the protection of refugee and migrant children has been a priority of the Council of Europe over the last years. Through the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2016 -2021) and the Action Plan on Protecting Refugee and Migrant Children ( 2017-2019), the Council of Europe is committed to playing a key role in assisting member States in ensuring access to rights and child-friendly procedures, providing effective protection as well as enhancing the integration of children who will remain in Europe."