The Council of Europe has formally launched its new Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) to safeguard, promote and ensure all the rights of the 150 million children across the continent.
Launched at a high-level conference in Rome this April, this is the fourth consecutive strategy built under the “building a Europe for and with children” programme which, for over 16 years, has guided the 46 member States’ commitment to children’s rights and the ambition to build the best possible life for children in the European Union and beyond. Created in the context of today's unique challenges, the strategy places children’s voices at the centre of its innovative planning for safer childhoods.
In consultation with children
Children are critical stakeholders in decisions that affect them. Their perspectives and lived experiences are key to understanding what needs to be done to protect their rights. The Council of Europe has ensured that the voice of children is not only heard, but also operationalised in its policy and planning efforts. Through a consultation, 200 children from across Europe were asked about the issues affecting them, the action they want and the support they need to get it. Their views and suggestions are included as action items, available and accessible to all those who are operationalising the strategy’s implementation.
An evolving strategy for an evolving future
This new strategy comes at a critical time. The rights of children, in Europe and beyond, are at grave risk. The effects of climate change are impacting the lives of people around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed almost every child in Europe in a public health crisis, and many of them in an economic one. Children living in, and being displaced from, conflict areas is also an increasing reality, with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine placing millions more at risk of violence.
These contexts have deepened the threat to many rights - such as the right to liberty, health, education, and protection from all forms of violence. Children are exposed to the threat of education loss, physical and psychological harm, practices such as child labour, trafficking and abuse. With a focus on states affected by humanitarian crisis, this strategy is adapted to this new reality of children in emergency situations to make sure that the continent is never unprepared or not equipped to protect its children. It lays out the blueprint to address these existing challenges and a general plan of action to ensure effective responses in case of future emergency situations.
Ending violence in all settings, offline and online
The strategy has adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards violence against children among the Member Sates, to be implemented through innovative approaches that involve gender-based education, prevention measures across levels, support and reporting mechanisms for children and approaches that challenge discrimination and inequality. It stresses the role of and draws on the best available evidence, including the recommendations of the Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020 developed by the End Violence Partnership, UNICEF and WHO.
The strategy also reflects on the rapid digitalisation of children’s lives. It places a focus on protecting children from online sexual exploitation and abuse and using innovative technology solutions such as artificial intelligence to maximise opportunities and minimising risks of online harm and violence. With the new European Union set to bring in new a legislation to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse online, this strategy is a timely guide for putting law into action and setting an example for a safer digital world for children everywhere.
Looking ahead, the Strategy’s implementation will be closely followed through collaborative and inclusive processes on the basis of an Action Plan. In order to make it more accessible and accountable towards children, a child-friendly version of the Strategy will be also produced with them.
Learn more about Council of Europe’s Strategy for the Rights of the Child and explore End Violence’s expert-driven policy proposals to guide government action in protecting children online, at home, in schools, communities and humanitarian contexts.
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