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Ref. DC 059(2016)

In times of crisis, Europe cannot afford to disregard children’s rights

Sofia, 05.04.2016 – With the new challenges Europe is facing today, governments cannot afford to put children’s rights on the backburner, said participants of the Council of Europe conference that started in Sofia today.

“Keeping Europe anchored in democracy, universal human rights and the rule of law is our generation’s great challenge. But let’s be clear: it will be up to the next generation to complete the task,” said the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni in her opening address. “Not only are children full holders of human rights – they are also the future guardians of human rights.”

During this conference, the new Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child for 2016-2021 is being officially launched.  It will provide guidance to member States on how to effectively counter the risks posed by the refugee crisis: children falling prey to traffickers, subjected to hate speech and xenophobia, enduring everyday hardships. Economic uncertainties fueling poverty, inequality and social exclusion, and the digital environment with its harmful content, online sexual abuse and cyber-bullying pose further risks to children in Europe.

The new Council of Europe Strategy prioritises five areas: equal opportunities for all children – those of minority groups, with disabilities, affected by migration; their participation in decision-making; ensuring life free from violence and child-friendly justice for all children - as well as protecting rights of the child in the digital environment to guarantee their safety online.

Daniel Mitov, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria and the Chairperson of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe stressed that the flexible nature of the Strategy was crucial for successfully upholding the rights of children: “The Strategy has been conceived to ensure that new challenges to children’s rights can also be addressed as and when they arise – be they related to new trends in sexual abuse, to technological developments or other areas where children’s rights are being put at risk. “

The two-day event brings together more than 300 participants from high-level delegations from the Council of Europe member States, including two Heads of State, 16 ministers, senior representatives of international organisations and NGOs dealing with children rights. Children of 15-18 years from all over Europe are also taking part in the event organised by the Council of Europe and by the Bulgarian government. Bulgaria, current Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, has identified children rights as one of its Chairmanship priorities.

Useful information : Conference websiteFactsheet on the strategy for the Rights of the Child

Media contacts: 

In Sofia, Giuseppe Zaffuto, Spokesperson/Press officer, Mobile +33 6 86 32 10 24.

In Strasbourg, Tatiana Baeva, Spokesperson/Press officer, Tel. +33 3 88 41 21 41