UN Child Rights Convention marks 25 years: much achieved in the EU but more still needed

Throughout the EU, the rights of children are still not fully respected, even after 25 years of the UN’s landmark child rights convention, despite on-going efforts by EU institutions and Member States.

Violence, poverty and discrimination in accessing quality education or other services persist. This is particularly the case for children which find themselves in situations that make them vulnerable: those with disabilities or belonging to marginalised minorities, such as Roma, or those who are migrants and asylum seekers. To mark this anniversary, FRA calls on the EU and its Member States to renew their commitment to respect, protect, and fulfil in practice the rights of all children in accordance with the Convention.

Respecting children’s rights is a legal obligation for all of us. However, and despite efforts by the EU and its Member States, violation of economic and social rights, discrimination and inequalities still persist for too many children in the EU,” said FRA Director, Morten Kjaerum, marking 25 years of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. “Europe needs to pull together to create an integrated child protection system that safeguards the rights of all children across the EU.”

The EU Charter on Fundamental Rights, EU Directives and the EU Agenda on the Rights of the Child, demonstrate the commitment of the EU and its Member States to child rights. However, FRA research points to some disturbing realities faced by children in the European Union today:

  • 33% of women experienced physical or sexual violence by an adult as a child, according to FRA’s survey on violence against women
  • The proportion of Roma children who live in households falling below the national at-risk-of-poverty line is twice as high as that of non-Roma children living nearby, according to FRA’s Roma survey;
  • Many migrant, ethnic minority children and children with disabilities still face discrimination, exclusion and lack access on an equal basis to mainstream education, justice and support services;
  • Children in judicial proceedings are often not adequately supported when they undergo difficult proceedings, such as cases of sexual abuse or in custody battles;
  • Preliminary findings from FRA’s work on mapping child protection systems point to fragmented legal and policy frameworks protecting children, and issues surrounding the coordination and cooperation among different bodies dealing with child rights. It underlines the need for stronger prevention measures and policies, supported by adequate financial and human resources.

While the UN child rights’ convention has changed the understanding of the rights of children and the way children are viewed and treated, FRA research has shown that in practice, much still remains to be done. That is why the upcoming review of the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child will be an important opportunity for renewed impetus to better ensure the rights of children all across Europe.