Children's rights: combatting exploitation, forced marriage and sexual abuse

Members of the European Parliament have called for more action to combat child trafficking and forced marriage, whilst stressing the crucial contribution that kids make in the fight against climate change.

Following the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20th November, the European Parliament adopted a resolution, assessing the many challenges that children and youth face today. The text was approved by 495 votes in favour, 58 against and 87 abstentions on Tuesday.

MEPs condemn all forms of violence against children, including forced marriage, female genital mutilation, trafficking, psychological violence and urge all EU countries to work on new strategies to eradicate sexual violence and child abuse both online and offline. They also call on member states to uphold legislation penalising the corporal punishment of kids.

The resolution calls for the Common European Asylum System to be fully implemented to improve conditions for children in migration. The best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all decisions concerning children and migration. In particular, child protection should be the leading principle when dealing with unaccompanied children, rather than migration policies, says the text.


Some children continue to be born stateless, including in the EU, and MEPs call on the countries concerned to address these problems. They also highlight, among others, children with disabilities, migrant backgrounds, children of LGBTI parents, those with imprisoned parents and children of so-called “foreign fighters” as disproportionally exposed to discrimination on multiple grounds.

Concerning children of foreign terrorist fighters held in north-east Syria, the resolution urges all EU countries to repatriate all kids with EU nationalities, taking into account their specific family situation.

The Parliament also calls on all EU countries to guarantee all children the right to an inclusive education, including age-appropriate information about sex and sexuality.

On a positive note, the resolution highlights the significant role children can play in shaping the political agenda as illustrated by the recent mobilisation against climate change led by young people. It finally urges all countries that have not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its additional protocols to do so as a matter of urgency.

The UN convention has become the most ratified human rights treaty in history. The European Parliament organised a conference on 20 November to mark its 30th anniversary, attended by, among others, Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians.

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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