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EU guidelines on the rights of the child

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

EU guidelines on the rights of the child



EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child


They establish a framework for the European Union (EU) to ensure the rights of the child* are taken into account in all its external policies and actions.

They reinforce the action of the 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 also complement the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict and the EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child.


To achieve the objective of protecting the rights of the child, the EU uses operational tools, such as:

  • political dialogue, by including children’s rights in negotiations and discussions held with organisations and with non-EU countries;
  • démarches (e.g. diplomatic representation of a particular issue from one government to another), 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 with an emphasis on children’s rights;
  • partnerships and coordination with international stakeholders, such as the United Nations (UN), regional organisations, the European Forum on Children’s Rights, research institutions, civil society and international financial institutions.

General actions to implement these guidelines include:

  • encouraging non-EU countries to adhere to international instruments and standards and cooperate with bodies, such as the UN and the Council of Europe;
  • urging the reinforcement of protection of children’s rights in non-EU countries by drawing up strategies and strengthening existing mechanisms;
  • improving monitoring processes and structures (e.g. databases);
  • offering more resources for the promotion and protection of children’s rights;
  • combating the violation of children’s rights and ending the existing impunity;
  • encourage participation by children in decision-making and the implementation of policies affecting them;
  • enhancing families’/other caretakers’ capacities to carry out their roles fully with regard to the protection of children’s rights;
  • furthering the awareness-raising programmes on children’s rights by promoting campaigns of incorporating the rights of the child into school curricula.

Specific action will be taken in priority areas on the basis of separate implementation strategies. The priority areas are selected for a 2-year period. The first priority area refers to all forms of violence against children. The objective, operation part and country-specific implementation strategy, actions, monitoring and assessment of the implementation are detailed in Annex I to these guidelines.


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

The EU is a key player in protecting human rights (and children’s rights in particular) around the world. It adheres to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols. It also promotes other initiatives that aim for the betterment of children, such as the former Millennium Development Goals which, since the beginning of 2016, have been replaced by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Child: in the context of this summary, a child refers to any human being under the age of 18.


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)

last update 16.08.2016