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Children in EU external action

Children in EU external action

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Children in EU external action

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

Development > Sectoral development policies

Children in EU external action

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 5 February 2008 – A special place for children in EU external action [COM(2008) 55 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Children and adolescents account for one third of the world’s population and half the population in most developing countries. Investing in children therefore means investing in the future. Improving the situation of children makes it possible to prevent State fragility and ensure long-term sustainable development, stability and human security at regional, national and global levels.

Children are vulnerable and so must be placed at the centre of the development, humanitarian aid and external relations policies of the European Union (EU).

The challenges relating to this sector of the population include health, education and training, social inclusion, combating crimes such as human trafficking and sexual exploitation, but also combating child labour and recruitment by armed groups. Some children are particularly at risk, especially in situations of humanitarian crisis. Particular attention must be paid to girls, since they are exposed to additional risks, such as various forms of violence, whether domestic or sexual.

Normative framework

The EU is committed to respecting 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, which establishes four general principles that apply to all actions affecting children: non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right of the child to survival and development and respect for the views of the child.

The EU also adheres to the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and supports the United Nations Plan of Action “A World Fit for Children”.

The protection of children’s rights is also given particular prominence in the EU’s human rights and democratisation policy towards third countries, especially in the context of implementing the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict and those concerning the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child.

The enlargement process and humanitarian aid are also useful tools to promote children’s rights.

Action by the EU

To respond to the many existing challenges, the EU is establishing a framework for a comprehensive approach towards the protection and promotion of children’s rights in third countries. This approach must be based on a global, universal view of children’s rights. It must also be included in wider development and poverty eradication strategies.

The EU plans to rely on a variety of measures to ensure coordination of its external action, such as:

  • development cooperation, so as to address the root causes of poverty;
  • trade policy, which must be consistent with the protection and promotion of children’s rights. In bilateral agreements, the issue of children’s rights is covered by labour standards;
  • political dialogue between the EU and the partner countries, which allows emphasis to be placed on the commitments under the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • regional and global actions which supplement the country-level actions and address issues of a supra-national character;
  • empowerment of children and adolescents to play a more active role in matters that affect them directly;
  • humanitarian aid, as children are particularly adversely affected by difficult situations resulting from natural disasters or conflicts. Humanitarian aid will focus in particular on separated and unaccompanied children, children associated with armed forces or armed groups and children’s education in emergencies.

Background

This Communication follows the 2006 Communication, which proposes the definition of a long-term strategy for the EU in the field of children’s rights. It supplements the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the Council on 10 December 2007, which forms the basis for the EU action in the field of the protection and promotion of children’s rights under its external policy.

Key terms used in the act
  • Children not attending school: 72 million, 57 % of whom are girls.
  • Children involved in child labour: 110 million.
  • Over 50 % of all mothers giving birth are not assisted by a trained midwife.
  • Over 3 million children die from complications that arise during or immediately after delivery.
  • Over 300 000 children annually are born HIV positive.
  • 10 million children die every year from preventable causes before reaching the age of five.

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

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 > Social measures for target groups: disability and old age

Protection at international level of the rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2010/48/ECof 26 November 2009 concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Summary

The European Union (EU) has acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This international Convention is intended to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.

To this end, the Convention is based on a series of principles:

  • respect for the dignity, autonomy and independence of persons;
  • non-discrimination;
  • participation and inclusion in society;
  • respect for difference and acceptance of persons;
  • equality of opportunity;
  • accessibility, in particular access to transportation, information and communications, public facilities and services, in urban and rural areas;
  • equality between men and women;
  • respect for the identity of children with disabilities and for their evolving capacities.

States which have acceded to the Convention shall take all necessary measures to ensure respect for these principles on an ongoing basis. They also undertake to support the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities.

In addition, persons with disabilities should be consulted in the development and implementation of legislation and policies relating to them.

Protection against discrimination

All discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited and persons with disabilities are to receive equal and effective legal protection.

The Convention contains specific provisions in relation to two population groups:

  • women with disabilities, who are subject to multiple discrimination. Measures are to be taken to ensure their full development and their autonomy;
  • children with disabilities, who are entitled to protection of their best interests in decisions affecting them, also have the right to express their views freely and to be provided with appropriate assistance.

States which are Parties to the Convention undertake to combat stereotypes and to promote awareness of the capabilities of persons with disabilities.

Rights recognised by the Convention

The Convention lays down a series of rights and freedoms to which persons with disabilities are entitled. These include:

  • the right to life;
  • protection in situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies;
  • recognition as persons before the law and of legal capacity, especially with a view to owning property and freedom to manage their own finances, while being protected against abuse;
  • access to justice, thanks to procedural accommodations;
  • liberty and security;
  • freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse;
  • protection of physical and mental integrity;
  • liberty of movement, the right to choose place of residence and nationality;
  • living independently and being included in the community;
  • personal mobility, especially through mobility devices and technologies;
  • freedom of expression and access to information;
  • respect for privacy;
  • respect for home and the family;
  • the right to education;
  • access to health services;
  • habilitation and rehabilitation, by attaining full physical, mental, social and vocational ability;
  • the right to work, without discrimination and under just and favourable conditions;
  • the right to an adequate standard of living and social protection;
  • participation in political and public life, including by voting and being elected;
  • participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

Implementation of the Convention

International cooperation action may be undertaken for persons with disabilities, notably in partnership with relevant international and regional organisations.

States shall provide for one or more national focal points in order to inform the public about the Convention. They shall establish an independent mechanism to monitor the implementation of the Convention. Civil society shall be fully involved in monitoring action.

Finally, each State shall submit a comprehensive report on measures taken to fulfil its obligations, within two years of its accession to the Convention.

Context

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability (Article 21). Similarly, it recognises the right of persons with disabilities to independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community (Article 26). The Lisbon Treaty accords the same legal value to the Charter as to the Treaties (Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union).

United Nations Convention to combat desertification in countries seriously affected by drought

United Nations Convention to combat desertification in countries seriously affected by drought

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about United Nations Convention to combat desertification in countries seriously affected by drought

Topics

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

Environment > Environment: cooperation with third countries

United Nations Convention to combat desertification in countries seriously affected by drought

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 216/98/EC of 9 March 1998 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention to combat desertification in countries seriously affected by drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.

Summary

The European Community (EC) adopted the United Nations Convention to combat desertification in countries seriously affected by drought and/or desertification by means of this Decision.

The Council of the European Union, acting by qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission, has adopted the position to be taken by the EC at the Conference of the Parties where that body is called upon to adopt decisions that have legal effect.

The EC is represented at the Conference of the Parties by the Commission in the case of matters coming within Community powers.

The Convention

The aim of this United Nations Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in those countries experiencing serious drought/or desertification, particularly in Africa through effective action at all levels. These measures are underpinned by international cooperation and partnership arrangements, under an integrated approach complying with Agenda 21, to contribute to sustainable development in the areas concerned. Action 21 is an international action plan designed to achieve sustainable development in the 21st century.

The Convention consists of 40 articles and 5 annexes defining the arrangements for implementing the Convention in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern Europe.

Desertification is due primarily to human activity and climatic variations. It does not mean the advance of current areas of desert. It is the result of the extreme vulnerability of the ecosystems in arid areas to over-exploitation and inappropriate use of land. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices are all factors which have a deleterious impact on the productivity of the land.

Under the Convention measures to combat desertification include action to promote the integrated development of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas to:

  • prevent and/or reduce land degradation;
  • rehabilitate partly degraded land;
  • reclaim desertification areas.

The Convention is being implemented through national, sub-regional and regional programmes which are designed to form an integral part of a country’s national sustainable development policy. They are updated under an ongoing participative process in the light of work on the ground and the results of research.

Local communities play a key role in the formulation and implementation of these action programmes as they are dependent on the land.

Closer international cooperation between developed and developing countries is essential to implement the Convention. Nevertheless, the governments of the countries affected by desertification retain responsibility for the creation of an enabling environment to help local populations themselves bring an end to the process of land degradation. Governments must make politically sensitive changes such as greater decentralisation of decision-making, improvement of land tenure systems and empowerment of women and farmers.

The Convention does not have a centralised financial mechanism for projects but there is a Global Mechanism to help mobilise substantial financial resources from existing sources and to rationalise and improve their management.

The Conference of the Parties is the Convention’s supreme body. It is responsible for taking the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

Desertification poses the greatest threat in Africa. The disappearance of forest cover at a rate of 3.7 to 5 million hectares a year has an impact on surface and underground water, and 50 % of agricultural land on the African continent is affected by soil degradation and erosion.

The Convention was drawn up at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was signed in 1994 and came into force on 26 December 1996. To date over 170 countries have ratified the Convention which is a legally binding instrument.

In October 2001 the 5th session of the Conference of the Parties set up a subsidiary body, the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (known under the acronym CRIC). The Committee reviews and analyses the national progress reports on the Convention’s implementation submitted to the Conference of the Parties by the Parties and by observers. Its aim is to use these examinations and analyses to improve the consistency, impact and efficiency of policies and programmes to restore the agro-ecological balance of dry areas.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 216/98/EC [adoption: simple consultation CNS/1997/0211] 19.3.1998 Official Journal L 83 of 13.3.1998