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UNICEF Welcomes New European Union Commitment on Children’s Rights -- Urges EU investment in children

Geneva / Brussels, 4th July 2006  --  UNICEF commends the European Commission today for its new strategic approach on children’s rights, and particularly for its strong focus on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“The European Commission’s new communication ‘Towards an EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child’ is a very welcome move towards the full realization of children’s rights within the European Union and beyond,” said Philip O’Brien, Regional Director for UNICEF’s Office in Europe.  “UNICEF is particularly pleased to see that the document has been framed by the CRC and by the fact that this first ever EU strategy on children addresses children not only within the European Union but also the millions of children outside its borders.” 

Maria Calivis, Regional Director of Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States, supported this view:  “It is extremely encouraging to see the EU look at children as an EU responsibility transcending political, border and any other considerations.”

 “This approach reflects the true spirit of the CRC, the most widely adopted international human rights treaty which is now, thanks to this move, one important step closer towards full implementation,” she said.

The new strategy provides a solid foundation for the European Union to contribute to the implementation and monitoring of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, according to UNICEF.   In the short-term, European Union attention to children’s rights could be an important regional contribution to the 2007 UN General Assembly report on progress on A World Fit For Children + 5.  In the longer term, commitment by key bodies like the EU institutions to children’s rights will give political encouragement to other institutions to do likewise.  

“Currently the EU policy of ‘mainstreaming’ children in its internal and external policies and programming has meant that they are often not adequately considered.  With this new strategy, mainstreaming should mean that children are addressed as a distinct and visible concern within EU budgets, policies, laws, programmes and relations with third countries.  The real impact on children’s lives is ultimately the true measure of this strategy’s success,” said Philip O’Brien.

Towards that goal, UNICEF urges the European Union – the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers – to commit the necessary human and financial resources at the highest levels to implementation and follow-up on the strategy.

This constitutes a crucial step in the improvement of children’s lives within and beyond the European Union.  Children’s voices must be considered in the implementation process that lies ahead,” urged Marta Santos Pais, Director of the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
UNICEF commends the Commission for the consultative approach with the UN and civil society it undertook in defining the strategy unveiled today and stands ready to contribute to this key process through the European Forum on the Rights of the Child and other mechanisms. 

Its adoption and the launch of the Council of Europe’s programme “Building a World For and With Children” reaffirm the strong European commitment towards the realization of children’s rights. 

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Peter Delahaye, Director, UNICEF Brussels Office: +32 2 513 22 51
Mr. Philip O’Brien, Regional Director, UNICEF’s Office in Europe: +41 22 909 57 16
Ms. Maria Calivis, Regional Director, Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States: +41 22 909 55 02



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