Countering Anti-Child Rights Movements in Europe: The Need for a European Mechanism

Anti-rights groups are non-state groups that position themselves as part of civil society but attack fundamental and universal human rights. They typically campaign against the rights of excluded groups – women, children and young people, LGBTQI+ people, religious minorities, ethnic and racial minorities, migrants and refugees. Consequently, civil society that defends the rights of those groups comes under attack as well.

In this position paper, Eurochild collects on anti-rights activities across Europe and explores the possibility of founding a European mechanism that protects human rights, with a specific focus on children’s rights and children’s rights defenders.

The need for a mechanism to monitor and counteract this trend is paramount. As institutions with respective mandates on human rights, including children’s rights, it is essential that the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe (CoE) work together to address this growing challenge. To make such a mechanism a reality as soon as possible, the EU and CoE should explore the possibility of including the monitoring of anti-child rights movements and activities within existing mechanisms at European level.

Attacks from anti-child rights movements have taken different forms:

  • Children human rights defenders are targeted for their human rights activities and for speaking out;
  • Children have reported being subject to adverse experiences such as heckling, interruption, being joked about, belittled or insulted when speaking about children’s rights;
  • Children’s rights are denounced as being against the family and ‘traditional family values’ and seen as undermining parents’ rights;
  • Well-known public figures are part of anti-child rights movements;
  • The supposed wellbeing of children is used as a cover to oppose rights and protections for girls, women and LGBTQI+ people and block efforts to protect and advance sexual and reproductive rights;
  • Organisations working on children’s rights - including children’s rights bodies and experts such as the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child - are attacked and undermined;
  • Laws, strategies and initiatives to further children’s rights are opposed, blocked or repealed.

Read the full position paper

For further information on this topic, you can reach out to Mieke Schuurman, Senior Policy Advisor Children’s Rights & Safeguarding.

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