13 May 1993

Doc. 6838


on children's rights

presented by Ms HALONEN and others

1.       In the face of rapid or violent social change, children's rights are threatened. The intense changes which have taken place in Europe - the former communist countries' hurried shift to a market economy - have created economic uncertainty and in this way threatened children's rights. In Western European integration the main focus has been on the free movement of workers; insufficient attention has been given to ensuring the position of the family. In practice, children's right to an uninterrupted education, to lasting relations with other people and to growing up in their own culture, have not been ensured. Although there are serious deficiencies in Europe even in peace time, the mass killing and mistreatment of women and children which has taken place in former Yugoslavia has shockingly shown that little thought has been given to protecting civilians in general, or even children, in war or war-like situations.

2.       The international community has striven to strengthen children's rights through work which has continued for decades: the United Nations declaration on children's rights, the principles of the CSCE, the European Community's social regulations, etc. and of course the Council of Europe's own work. Remembering the efforts of the Council of Europe and other international bodies on behalf of human rights which also promote children's rights, it should, however, be pointed out that the Council of Europe does not have a special agreement or action programme on children's rights.

3.       Many of the member countries of the Council of Europe already have positive experience of fruitful work on behalf of children's rights. In the Nordic countries, for example, encouraging results have been achieved through special legislation regarding children, co-operation between authorities and civic organisations, and family assistance and counselling.

4.       The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       encourage the member states to join the United Nations agreement on children's rights;

ii.       speed up the work to supplement the United Nations agreement on children's rights with a European agreement on children's rights and a related action programme which would:

-       encourage the achievement of general family-policy programmes;

-       pay special attention to the position of children without a family;

-       pay special attention to ensuring the rights of children in a threatened position;

-       take notice of the position of children representing minority cultures;

-       ensure that children are heard and their position is protected in all situations;

-       spread information and the use of a children's ombudsman in children's protection;

-       ensure speedy appeal procedures and other legal means and pay special attention to a human but efficient enforcement of these decisions;

-       encourage the achievement of programmes to abolish poverty of children and children's families;

-       pay special attention to fight against the exploitation of juvenile labour.

Signed:       Halonen, Gjørv, Dromberg, Rynnänen, Tiuri, Jansson, Laakso, Hjelm-Wallén, Haglund, Franck, Hacklin, Håvik, Rehn, Thoresen, Bondevik, Ástgeirsdóttir, Severinsen