Recommendation 1460 (2000)
Setting up a European ombudsman for children
The Council of Europe recently
celebrated fifty years of existence and work, in particular in the field of
standard setting. Many of its conventions, resolutions and recommendations,
whether of the Committee of Ministers or the Assembly, have been concerned
exclusively or in part with children and their rights. There is also the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, now ten years old. What
stage has its implementation reached?
It is clear to the Assembly that
there is still a gulf between declared principles and reality. For many
children in Europe, everyday life consists of prostitution, labour and
poverty, while others are cooped up - undernourished and deprived of education
- in refugee camps or disabled for life by landmines.
This is a state of affairs we must
try to do something about. New means must be found of translating countries?
commitments into national reality. Children have rights and they should have
some way of making their voice heard if those rights are denied them, which
implies legislation, initially at national level, that effectively protects
Some states - as yet too few -
have accordingly created the post of children?s ombudsman and are clearly
making progress with regard to protection of minors. Parliamentary Assembly
Recommendation 1286 (1996) on a European strategy for children
strongly urged that such posts be created at national level, with guarantees
of the independence and professionalism necessary to effect a real improvement
in children?s circumstances.
The task of those working on
behalf of children is complicated by globalisation, by the complexity of
relations between states and by the use being made of new technologies. A
European network linking the small number of children?s mediators already
appointed is attempting to respond to the challenges through exchange of
information and co-operation.
In 1996, following the Dutroux
case (see Resolution 1099 (1996) on the sexual exploitation of children),
the Assembly drew attention to the need apparent at that time for
European-level co-ordination and, echoing the European Parliament, advocated
creating the office of European Children?s Ombudsman. The Council of Europe,
whose mission is to protect human rights, is the most appropriate organisation
to accommodate such an institution, which must be independent and must have
powers of initiative.
The tasks of the ombudsman?s
office would be to promote awareness and implementation of the various
conventions on children?s rights, to advise and support all involved in
policies for children, to assess the impact on children of different policy
options and to devise specific strategies, particularly for the promotion of
education for peace and non-violence.
The Assembly therefore recommends
that the Committee of Ministers:
ask those member states that have not yet done so to appoint a national
create within the Council of Europe, under arrangements to be specified,
the post of European Children?s Ombudsman, to be filled by a person of
European standing whose task it would be to champion the cause of children.
on 7 April 2000 (16th Sitting) (see Doc. 8552, report of the Social, Health
and Family Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mrs Pozza Tasca).
Text adopted by the Assembly on
7 April 2000 (16th Sitting).