European Parliament votes on Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World

MEPs reiterated the need for an ambitious and comprehensive Child Rights Strategy and welcomed the Child Rights Manifesto

The European Parliament passed on 12 March a resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter. The Annual Report had been endorsed by the Council in June 2014. 

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) took stock of EU policies, tools and actions relevant to promoting human rights, and underlined the importance of mainstreaming human rights in all activities of the EU by ensuring coherence between internal and external policies, and abandoning double standards.

With regards to children’s rights, MEPs reiterated their call on the European Commission to propose an ambitious and comprehensive Child Rights Strategy and the Action Plan for the next five years which they have already requested in the resolution of November 2014 marking the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). They also welcomed the Child Rights Manifesto and encouraged more MEPs and members of the national parliaments to become ‘child rights champions’.

The resolution raised issues such as child poverty, malnutrition, child labour and exploitation, as well as violence against children. It stressed the importance of prioritising children’s rights within EU external policy, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, highlighting the crucial role of a multi-dimensional approach, adequate funding, prevention and protection measures, and capacity building.

Importantly, MEPs called for the universal ratification of the UNCRC, in particular the third Optional Protocol which allows children to submit complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In addition they encouraged the Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to explore the ways for the EU to accede to the UNCRC.

At the same occasion MEPs passed a separate resolution on the EU’s priorities for the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council in 2015. They raised their concerns about situation of children in armed conflicts, child labour, impediments to universal primary education and the number of children suffering from preventable diseases. A Parliament delegation is attending the session between 18 and 20 March.