Tag Archives: Children

EU guidelines on the rights of the child

EU guidelines on the rights of the child

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on the rights of the child

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on the rights of the child

Document or Iniciative

EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child . Approved by the Council on 10 December 2007 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In spite of the existence of many international instruments, standards and commitments on the rights of the child and the progress made in this field, the daily reality for millions of children worldwide is in sharp contrast to these commitments and objectives.

Many children face many threats and lack opportunities for access to education and health and social care. They are victims of the worst forms of child labour, violence, sexual abuse, diseases, armed conflict and are exposed to discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion. Girls face specific risks and require particular attention.

Consequently, these guidelines reinforce the action of the European Union (EU) for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in its external relations and encourage an overall, strategic approach to these issues. They complement the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict.

To achieve its objectives, the EU will use operational tools, such as:

  • political dialogue, by including children’s rights in negotiations and discussions held within international or regional organisations and with non-EU countries;
  • démarches, to react to topical issues with an impact on children’s rights and to remind non-EU countries of the need to take appropriate measures to protect children;
  • bilateral and multilateral cooperation to draw up humanitarian assistance and development aid programmes, placing the emphasis on children’s rights, and to raise the question of children’s rights in all areas of the EU’s external action;
  • partnerships and coordination with international stakeholders, such as the United Nations, regional organisations, the European Forum on Children’s Rights, research institutions, public-private partnerships, but also civil society and international financial institutions.

The guidelines provide for action to be taken in the context of relations with non-EU countries and in multilateral fora.

Implementation

The EU proposes general action to implement these operational policies in its relations with non-EU countries, including:

  • encouraging non-EU countries to adhere to relevant international instruments and standards and to cooperate with the various existing mechanisms, such as those of the United Nations, as well as regional instruments, including those of the Council of Europe;
  • urging the reinforcing of capacity for the promotion and protection of children’s rights at national level, by drawing up strategies and developing or strengthening governmental mechanisms;
  • improving monitoring processes and structures, such as databases and surveillance systems, as well as promoting research on the rights of the child, establishing national independent institutions and promoting the participation of civil society;
  • offering more resources for the promotion and protection of children’s rights;
  • encouraging and supporting the review of national legislation on the promotion and protection of children’s rights to ensure better consistency and compatibility with international standards and instruments;
  • combating the violation of children’s rights and ending the existing impunity;
  • encouraging more effective participation by children in decision-making and the implementation of policies affecting them and facilitating their participation;
  • enhancing families’ and other caretakers’ capacities to carry out their roles fully with regard to the protection of children’s rights;
  • furthering the implementation of awareness-raising programmes on children’s rights by promoting campaigns or incorporating the rights of the child in school curricula.

Within the framework of these guidelines, specific action will be taken in priority areas on the basis of separate implementation strategies. The priority areas are selected for a two-year period. The first priority chosen refers to all forms of violence against children. The objectives, operational part and country-specific implementation strategy, actions, monitoring and assessment of the implementation are detailed in Annex 1 to the guidelines.

The Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM) is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of these guidelines, in coordination and close cooperation with other Council working groups.

Background

The EU has undertaken to respect human rights in general and children’s rights in particular under international and European treaties. It adheres to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, promotes the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and supports the United Nations action plan “A World fit for Children “.

The EU has for years been pursuing various actions relating to children and armed conflict, raising the issue of children’s rights in dialogues with non-EU countries and in the context of the enlargement process. In addition, the EU has created a European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, which enables initiatives to be promoted in this field. It integrates the respect of children’s rights into its development policy too, as laid down in the European Consensus on Development.

EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

EU guidelines on children and armed conflict

Document or Iniciative

Update of the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict . General Affairs Council of 16 June 2008 [Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In the last decade, armed conflicts have, on estimation, claimed the lives of over two million children, physically maimed six million, orphaned one million and created up to 20 million displaced or refugee children. It is estimated that there are at least 300 000 child soldiers in the world. These guidelines are intended to highlight the issue of children in armed conflict and to give more prominence to European Union (EU) actions in this area. Promotion of and respect for children’s rights is a priority of the EU’s human rights policy, within the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy as well as policies on development cooperation and humanitarian aid.

The EU undertakes to address the short, medium and long-term impact of armed conflict on children. To this end, it aims to persuade non-EU countries and non-state actors to apply international humanitarian law and human rights norms, standards and instruments, as well as to effectively protect children from the effects of armed conflict. These guidelines also aim at preventing the recruitment of children into armed forces and groups and impunity for crimes against children.

Practical measures taken by the EU

The Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM), in collaboration with other relevant working parties, identifies situations where EU action is necessary on the basis of:

  • periodic reports from EU Heads of Mission, Heads of Mission of civilian operations, Military Commanders and Special Representatives that include an evaluation of the effects of conflict on children and the impact of EU action;
  • ad hoc reports on country situations from Heads of Mission that may include the issue of children and armed conflict;
  • information from the Commission on EU-funded projects aimed at children and armed conflict and post-conflict rehabilitation;
  • reports and recommendations from the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, UN Special Mechanisms and human rights Treaty Bodies, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

To promote and protect children affected by armed conflict, the EU uses a variety of tools in its relations with non-EU countries:

  • political dialogue, which should include the issue of children’s rights in pre-conflict, conflict and post-conflict situations;
  • demarches and public statements that encourage non-EU countries to take effective action to protect children from the effects of armed conflict, to end the use of children in armed forces and groups and to end impunity;
  • multilateral cooperation, which includes funds for projects relating to children and armed conflict, and humanitarian aid;
  • crisis management operations, where particular attention is given during the planning phase to the protection of children;
  • training in child protection.

Background

International legislation in this area includes the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which has been ratified by virtually all countries in the world, but is not applied everywhere. In particular, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflicts aims at countering situations where children are affected by armed conflict.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict are other especially important mechanisms in this field. Together with its countries, the EU aims to take account of and to coordinate, as far as possible, their actions with these mechanisms in order to maximise their impact. Other relevant international and regional human rights norms and standards and humanitarian law that guide EU action to protect children affected by armed conflict are listed in the annex to these guidelines.

Protection of young people at work

Protection of young people at work

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of young people at work

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Health hygiene and safety at work

Protection of young people at work

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 94/33/EC of 22 June 1994 on the protection of young people at work.

Summary

The Directive applies to all young people under the age of 18 who have an employment contract or an employment relationship defined by the law in force in a Member State and/or subject to the law in force in a Member State.

The Member States may stipulate that the Directive shall not be applicable to occasional work or work carried out for a limited period in domestic service in a private household or to work in a family business which is not considered likely to harm, injure or endanger young people.

The Directive provides that the Member States shall take the necessary measures to prohibit the employment of children and shall ensure that the employment of adolescents is strictly controlled and protected under the conditions provided for in the Directive.

The Directive defines categories of young people as follows:

  • young people: young people under the age of 18;
  • children: young people under the age of 15 or who are still in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation;
  • adolescents: young people between the ages of 15 and 18 who are no longer in full-time compulsory education in accordance with national legislation.

The Directive’s main objective is to prohibit the employment of children.

However, the Directive allows the Member States to stipulate, subject to certain conditions, that the ban on the employment of children is not applicable to:

  • children employed for the purposes of cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities, subject to prior authorisation by the competent authority in each specific case;
  • children aged 14 years or over who work in an undertaking as part of a work/training scheme or traineeship, provided that this work is carried out in accordance with the requirements laid down by the competent authority;
  • children aged 14 years or over performing light work other than that referred to in the first point above ; however, children over 13 may perform light work for a limited number of hours per week in categories of employment defined in national legislation.

The Directive includes provisions relating to:

  • the employer’s general obligations, such as protection of the health and safety of young people, assessment of the risks to young people associated with their work, assessment and monitoring of the health of young people, information about young people and children’s legal representatives on the possible risks to their health and safety;
  • types of employment which must not be carried out by young people, such as work which exceeds the mental or physical capacities of young people, work involving harmful exposure to dangerous substances.

In addition, the Directive contains provisions relating to working hours, night work, rest periods, annual leave and rest breaks.

Each Member State is responsible for defining the measures to be taken in the event of infringement of the provisions of this Directive. These measures must be effective and proportionate to the offence.

The Directive contains a non-regression clause concerning the level of protection for young people.

The Directive provides for transition periods of varying lengths for Member States for which the application of this Directive poses significant problems. This is the case for the United Kingdom, which has a transition period of four years to apply some of the most important provisions of the Directive, i.e. until 22 June 2000.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Directive 94/33/EC

22.06.1996

Official Journal L 216 of 20.08.1994

Related Acts

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of Regions on the application of Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work [COM(2004) 105 final].

The report concludes that in most Member States the legislation already made provision for the protection of young workers and the prohibition of child labour before the Directive was adopted. There were therefore no significant problems in transposing the Directive.

Report from the Commission on the effects of the transitional period granted to the United Kingdom concerning certain provisions of Council Directive 94/33/EC on the protection of young people at work [COM(2000)457 final].

Environment and health strategy

Environment and health strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Environment and health strategy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Public health > Health determinants: environment

Environment and health strategy

Document or Iniciative

European environment and health strategy of 11 June 2003 [COM(2003) 338 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Key elements and implementation of the strategy

The objective of this strategy is to integrate the information on the state of the environment, the ecosystem and human health. The ultimate objective is to establish a framework to help produce a better understanding of the cause-and-effect relationships between the environment and health and to make available the information needed to develop an integrated Community policy. Other objectives of the strategy are to identify and reduce any new health threats caused by environmental factors and to strengthen the Union’s capacity for policymaking in this area. As the acronym indicates, the strategy is based on science, focuses on children, aims at raising awareness, uses legal instruments and includes continuous evaluation.

The plan is to implement the strategy incrementally in successive cycles. The first cycle, from 2004 to 2010, will focus on the link between environmental factors and:

  • childhood respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies;
  • neurodevelopmental disorders;
  • childhood cancer;
  • disruption of the endocrine system (glands which secrete hormones).

The strategy will pave the way for a Community information system for assessing the overall impact of the environment on human health and the cause-and-effect links and for developing an integrated policy on the environment and health. In the first cycle three pilot projects will be launched to develop a method for putting in place a European system for integrated environment and health monitoring. These projects will focus on three priority pollutants for which data collection and monitoring are already well underway: dioxins, heavy metals and endocrine disrupters. The possibility of developing a harmonised European bio-monitoring system for children will also be considered during the first cycle.

Other research activities will be undertaken in order to gain a better understanding of environment and health issues.

Additional efforts will be made to reduce exposure to environmental hazards. These will concentrate on air quality, heavy metals, electromagnetic fields and a healthy urban environment in particular.

Implementation of this strategy will demand full stakeholder involvement. The Commission will set up technical working groups plus a consultative group on environment and health. Three regional conferences were planned up to 2004. In spring 2004 a major stakeholder conference was held to define the action plan for 2004-2010, which set out the goals and action for the first cycle as the Commission’s contribution to the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Budapest held in June 2004.

Previous activities on environment and health

Hitherto the political responses on environment and health have taken no account of the interaction between the two. Nevertheless, the Union has already put in place legislation on health hazards, such as chemicals, endocrine disrupters, pesticides, air and water pollution, noise, waste, industrial accidents and ionising radiation.

A Community action programme on public health, covering the period 2003-2008, has been under way since 1 January 2003. Other activities are in progress on tobacco control, food safety, electromagnetic fields, radiation protection and health impact assessment.

Research on the environment and health has been included in the European Framework Programmes for research and development activities since 1995.

The Community also has a strategy on health and safety at work.

The Union is participating in international activities such as the European Charter on Environment and Health and the “Healthy Environment for Children” project, both in collaboration with the World Health Organisation. It is also helping with the preparations for the next pan-European Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, which will be held in Budapest.

RELATED ACTS

Communication of 9June 2004 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee – “The European Environment & Health Action Plan 2004-2010” [

COM(2004) 416

final – Not published in the Official Journal].

The European Environment & Health Action Plan 2004-2010 is designed to reduce the burden of disease caused by environmental pollution. The added value of the action plan is that it will improve information and understanding and step up coordination between the health, environment and research sectors.

The plan provides for 13 actions geared towards the following objectives:

  • better information on the environment-health link;
  • stepping up research activity in Europe, particularly on the four priority health effects: asthma/allergies, neurodevelopmental disorders, cancer and endocrine disruption;
  • setting up mechanisms to improve risk assessment, as well as a system for early detection of emerging issues such as the effects of climate change on health;
  • drawing conclusions from the improved information and action, via awareness-raising campaigns, better risk communication, and training and educational activities.

Fight against trafficking in human beings

Fight against trafficking in human beings

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fight against trafficking in human beings

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Fight against trafficking in human beings

Trafficking in human beings, for whatever reason – sexual exploitation or work – is a violation of fundamental human rights. Because it affects vulnerable groups such as women and children in particular, the European Union has focused its action on objectives aiming to protect these groups and to prevent and combat this phenomenon, especially by strengthening cooperation and coordination between the police and judicial authorities of the Member States. Likewise, the EU is introducing a framework of common provisions in order to tackle certain issues, such as criminalisation and penalties or aggravating circumstances in the case of trafficking in human beings. The action of the EU, which in this way is also designed to protect the victims of trafficking, is based on instruments defining its objectives and priorities, but it is also integrated in a broader context of protection against violence, sexual tourism and child pornography.

GENERAL FRAMEWORK

  • Preventing and combating trafficking in human beings
  • Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Combating violence towards children, adolescents and women: Daphne III programme (2007-2013)
  • Protocol against the trafficking of people
  • Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea
  • Residence permit for victims of human trafficking
  • Plan on best practices, standards and procedures
  • The external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice
  • Combating trafficking in human beings
  • Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings
  • Action to prevent violence against children, young people and women: the DAPHNE II programme (2004-08)
  • Action to combat violence against children, young persons and women: the Daphne programme
  • STOP II
  • Incentive and exchange programme for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOP)

THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN

  • Combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • Safer Internet programme 2009-13
  • Combating child pornography on the Internet
  • Combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • Search for missing or sexually exploited children
  • Action plan on unaccompanied minors (2010-14)
  • Protecting children in the digital world
  • Towards a Strategy on the Rights of the Child
  • Combating trafficking in human beings, the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography
  • The implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism
  • Combating child sex tourism

THE PROTECTION OF WOMEN

  • New measures to combat trafficking in women
  • Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation

Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea

Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against trafficking in human beings

Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea

Document or Iniciative

Council Decisions 2006/616/EC and 2006/617/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Air and Sea, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Summary

The purpose of this Protocol to the United Nations Convention against organised crime is to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants, and to promote cooperation between States in this area.

The signatory States must establish the following acts as criminal offences when committed with the aim of obtaining a financial or material benefit:

  • the smuggling of migrants, that is, procuring the illegal entry of a person into a State of which he is not a national or a permanent resident;
  • producing fraudulent travel or identity documents;
  • the use of a document by a person other than the rightful holder;
  • procuring, providing or possessing fraudulent documents;
  • enabling a person to remain in a country without complying with the necessary requirements.

Endangering the lives or safety of migrants, and inflicting inhuman or degrading treatment must be considered as aggravating circumstances. In addition, victims of the smuggling of migrants shall not be liable to criminal prosecution.

The Protocol shall apply to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of these offences where they are transnational in nature and where an organised criminal group is involved, as well as to the protection of the rights of the victims of these offences.

Measures against the smuggling of migrants by sea

If a State suspects that a ship without nationality is smuggling migrants, it can board and search the vessel.

If a State suspects that a ship with a foreign registration is smuggling migrants, it notifies the flag State and requests confirmation of registry and authorisation to take appropriate measures. The flag State must respond promptly to such a request. If the suspicions prove to be justified, the requesting State can board and search the vessel, and then take appropriate measures with respect to the vessel and the persons and cargo on board. They must also check the safety and the humane treatment of the persons on board. If no imminent danger is found, no additional measures can be taken without the express authorisation of the flag State.

Only ships clearly marked as being on government service are authorised to board and search vessels.

International cooperation

The States Parties will work towards strengthening their borders and are entitled to deny entry to persons implicated in the smuggling of migrants.

Countries with common borders or lying on routes used by criminal groups are required to exchange certain information such as that relating to the embarkation and destination points used by the traffickers, the routes and modes of transportation used and the methods of concealment of migrants, etc.

Immigration officials and other competent agents shall be trained in preventing the smuggling of migrants, in the humane treatment of such persons and in protecting their rights. To this end, the States shall cooperate with each other and with international organisations, non-governmental organisations and other competent organisations, as well as with other elements of civil society to ensure that there is adequate personnel training.

Furthermore, States with relevant expertise and appropriate technical resources should help States that are frequently countries of origin or transit for migrants.

Prevention, protection, assistance and return

The States will provide public awareness-raising campaigns and promote development programmes and cooperation on the regional, national and international level to combat the root socio-economic causes of this traffic, notably poverty and underdevelopment.

Furthermore, the States must take measures to protect the rights of migrants who are victims of smuggling, taking into account the special needs of women and children. They must provide appropriate protection against violence that may be inflicted upon them and appropriate assistance to migrants whose lives or safety are endangered by the fact that they have been the object of smuggling.

Lastly, and without prejudice to any right afforded to persons who have been the object of smuggling by any domestic law of the receiving State, the States party to the Protocol agree to facilitate the return of their citizens and persons who have the right of permanent residence in its territory and who have been the object of smuggling. The States shall take all appropriate measures to carry out the return in an orderly manner and with due regard for the safety and dignity of the person.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decisions 2006/616/EC and 2006/617/EC

24.7.2006

OJ L 262 of 22.9.2006

Related Acts

Council Decisions 2006/618/EC and 2006/619/EC of 24 July 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime [Official Journal L 262 of 22.9.2006].

This Protocol aims at preventing and combating trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and at protecting and helping the victims. It promotes international cooperation in order to achieve these aims.


Council Directive 2004/81/EC of 29 April 2004 on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been the subject of an action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities [Official Journal L 261 of 6.8.2004].


Council Directive 2002/90/EC of 28 November 2002 defining the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence [Official Journal L 328 of 05.12.02].


Council Framework Decision 2002/946/JHA of 28 November 2002 on the strengthening of the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence [Official Journal L 328 of 05.12.02].