Every 20 November, the world celebrates the Universal Children's day, which is also the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) adopted in 1989. Most countries have ratified the UNCRC, its First Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and its Second Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. However, only a very limited number of countries have ratified its Third Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure. Moreover, translation of international commitments into national legislations and concrete implementation is often incomplete.
Many children in the world are still suffering from various forms of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect in their homes, at schools or on their way to education. Some are forced to live in the streets and beg, others are being sold, trafficked and being used for the worst forms of labour, for instance in the mining sector, or even for prostitution. Children are more and more exposed to extreme forms of violence. Many of them are recruited and used by armed forces, groups and gangs, exposed to physical and psychological suffering with a disastrous impact on their lives and further development. Children are also among the main victims of forced displacement. In 2016, one refugee out of two worldwide was a child, living in dire situations and often unaccompanied. Access to justice for children is too often limited and alternative to detention solutions are not often offered.
For all those reasons, the EU is fully committed to the comprehensive protection and promotion of the rights of the child in order to ensure that no child is left behind from development schemes in line with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. A priority is given to protect children from all forms of violence and establish stronger child protection systems to guarantee the overall wellbeing of children. The EU supports various projects for children's survival and development (in relation to education, health and nutrition), protection and participation. Inter alia, the EU promotes children's access to an identity through strengthened birth registration systems. The EU is also a major actor in the fight against harmful practices affecting boys and girls (child marriage, female genital mutilation, gender-biased sex selection).
The EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (2017) and the EU Guidelines on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts (2003, updated in 2008) are the basis for EU actions for children's rights. The EU UNICEF Child Rights toolkit offers guidance on how to mainstream child rights in development cooperation.