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Summaries of EU Legislation

Children’s rights and armed conflict

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Children’s rights and armed conflict


EU guidelines on children and armed conflict



They commit the EU to addressing the short, medium and long-term impacts of armed conflict on children.

They aim to persuade governments and organisations around the world to apply humanitarian law and human rights that protect children from the effects of armed conflict.

They also seek to stop the recruiting of children into armed forces and impunity for crimes against children.


  • The Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM), along with other relevant parties, determines where help is needed on the basis of reports from EU Heads of Missions, military commanders and EU Special Representatives; reports and recommendations from the United Nations (UN); and information from the European Commission on EU-funded projects aimed at children and armed conflict (and their aftermath).
  • To promote and protect children affected by armed conflict, the EU uses tools in its relations with non-EU countries, such as diplomatic initiatives, political dialogue, multilateral cooperation, training in child protection and crisis management.
  • The EU’s Revised Implementation Strategy on these Guidelines puts them into practice.
  • The EU has invested in strengthening its capacity on child protection, such as through the 2014 joint initiative with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Child Rights Toolkit: Integrating Child Rights in Development Cooperation. The EU also supports and contributes to the Children, Not Soldiers campaign, which was established in 2014 and aims to end the recruitment and use of children in conflict by 2016.


According to UNICEF, 1 in 10 children in the world lives in areas affected by armed conflict, which threatens their survival, development and life opportunities. There has been international legislation to address this problem, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in which the Optional Protocol aims at countering situations where children are affected by armed conflict.

The EU and its countries aim to take account of and to coordinate their actions with other bodies, such as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in order to maximise their impact. Other relevant human rights standards and humanitarian law that guide EU action to protect children affected by armed conflicts are listed in the annex to these guidelines.


Update of the EU guidelines on children and armed conflict. General Affairs Council of 16 June 2008

last update 25.09.2015