Engaging migrant communities in the promotion of the rights of the child
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By the end of this module you will be able to:
- Recall the EU legal framework in the area of children’s rights
As the literature claims, the EU is one of the most potential actors in protecting children’s rights due to its unique role (Iusmen, Stalford, 2016), although it does not have a long-lasting tradition in protecting children’s rights (Kišūnaitė, 2019). The European Union began including children’s rights protection in EU policies relatively late. The first legal step towards child protection’s recognition was the Treaty of Lisbon, which introduced an objective to promote children’s rights (Article 3(3) TEU).
The protection and promotion of children’s rights is an explicit objective of the European Union enshrined in several legal documents:
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC)
(is the first universal instrument of a legally binding nature to address the rights of the child. There are currently 193 parties to the Convention including all 27 EU countries. The Convention addresses children’s civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights. It provides the international community with the guiding principles to ensure that policy and strategy implemented at national level are undertaken from this child-rights based approach)
Although the EU is not party to the CRC, it must embrace the CRC by interpreting its norms in the light of the CRC. This duty derives from the EU’s obligation to follow the principles and provisions set in international human rights law in relation to those matters that follow within the scope of EU competence (Iusmen, Stalford, 2016).
Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union
establishes the objective for the EU to promote protection of the rights of the child. Specifically, it states: “The Union shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child”.
Moreover, the EU intervention in the field of children’s rights is related to the principle of subsidiarity enshrined in Article 5(3) of the Treaty on European Union and Protocol (No 2) on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, which establishes a constitutional mechanism “for demarcating the boundaries of EU intervention in matters that do not fall within the exclusive realm of EU competence”.
Article 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
highlighting the areas of social policy in which the EU supports and complements EU countries’ own activities, including fighting social exclusion and implementing social protection systems.
The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
guarantees the promotion, respect, and protection of the rights of the child in all relevant policies and actions by the EU institutions and by member states when they implement the EU law. Article 24 focuses on the rights of the child and it’s based on the CRC, particularly articles 3,9,12 and 13 thereof.
It states as follows:
Children shall have the right to such protection and care as is necessary for their well-being. They may express their views freely. Such views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in accordance with their age and maturity.
In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities or private institutions, the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration.
Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents unless that is contrary to his or her interests.
The third (3) paragraph takes account of the fact that, as part of the establishment of an area of freedom, security and justice, the legislation of the Union on civil matters having cross-border implications, for which Article 81 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union confers power, may include notably visiting rights ensuring that children can maintain on a regular basis a personal and direct contact with both of their parents.
The European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the Court in Strasbourg
constitutes an additional legal source of reference for the protection of children’s rights in the European Union.
European Convention on Human Rights. Accessed on 07.10.2022 from: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Convention_ENG.pdf
Iusmen Ingi, Stalford Helen (2016), Introduction. The EU as a Children’s Rights Actor. Law, Policy and Structural Dimensions, in: The EU as a Children’s Rights Actor. Law, Policy and Structural Dimensions (Iusmen, Ingi and Stalford, Helen, eds.), Barbara Budrick Publishers, Opladen, Berlin & Toronto, 9
Kišūnaitė, Aida (2019), Children’s Rights Protection in the EU. The Need for a Contextual Perspective, 3 (2) Peace Human Rights Governance 171
Treaty on European Union. Accessed on 07.10.2022 from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12008M003#:~:text=It%20shall%20combat%20social%20exclusion,and%20solidarity%20among%20Member%20States
Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Accessed on 07.10.2022 from: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=LEGISSUM%3A1712_2
United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child. Accessed on 07.10.2022 from: https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx