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Children’s rights

France and the rights of the child

France is actively working for children’s rights to really be respected and promoted in France and worldwide.

At the international level

France is a signatory of all international texts which protect and promote children’s rights->], first and foremost the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (PDF 52.9 KB), which it signed and ratified in 1990, as well as its two Optional Protocols, on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000) and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (PDF 2.27 MB) (2000). France submitted its fifth periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in September 2012.

France supports the work of UNICEF, to which it contributed some €3.4 million for 2014. Its support is directed primarily towards maternal and infant health programmes in Africa and Haiti (under the Muskoka G8 commitments), education for girls (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) and psychological, social and medical care for girls affected by the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire.

France has organized several high-level forums with UNICEF on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly to keep up the mobilization of the international community. The last forum took place in 2012. Since then, the Ministerial Follow-up Forum to the Paris Principles and Paris Commitments has been organizing regional meetings, the last of which was held in October 2014 in Addis Ababa.

More broadly speaking, France views the contribution by NGOs to this issue as essential. The creation of the “Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers” in 1998 and of the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict in 2001 were of decisive importance. NGOs are today fully involved in the mechanism for gathering information in the field to contribute to reports by the United Nations Secretary-General.

The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography visited France in November 2011. She commended France’s efforts on preventing and combating the sale and sexual exploitation of children and encouraged the government to adopt a comprehensive integrated approach in order to guarantee the protection, without discrimination of any form, of all actual and potential child victims.

At European level

France played an active part in the adoption of the EU Guidelines on the Rights of the Child (2007) and of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict (2003, revised in 2008).

It also helped launch the Council of Europe campaign to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse and was among the first signatories of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which came into force on 1 July 2010.

Protecting child victims of armed conflict

France is especially committed to the protection of children in armed conflict. In 2007, France partnered UNICEF in organizing the “Free Children from War” Conference which gave rise to the Paris Commitments, a political declaration on the protection, liberation and rehabilitation of children involved in armed conflict. To date, 105 States have endorsed the Paris Commitments. France is an active member of of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and was instrumental in its creation in 2005 (Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005). France supported the extension of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) under Resolution 1612 to cover the killing and maiming of children.

It also supported the adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 1998 of 12 July 2011 on Children and armed conflict which added attacks against schools and hospitals and their personnel to the criteria for listing in the Annexes to the annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and armed conflict ("List of Shame"), and Resolution 2068 (2012) which strengthened the open mandate of the Special Representative and enabled her to continue monitoring all situations of concern (not only those alrealy referred to the Security Council).

France supports the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” launched in March 2014 by Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The campaign, conducted with UNICEF, aims to end the recruitment and use of children by government forces in conflicts by 2016.

Illust: France is mobilized, 139.8 ko, 450x300
France is mobilized on the issue of the protection of children in armed conflict (AFP/Simon Maina)

France has also demonstrated its commitment in the form of a €2 million multi-year cooperation programme over the period 2008-2012 to improve the protection of children in armed conflicts in Africa’s Great Lakes Region (Burundi, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and in Central and Eastern Africa (Central African Republic, Sudan, Chad). Efforts in these two regions centred on three key elements:

1. protecting the child victims of armed conflict and assisting their long-term reintegration into society;

2. preventing and raising awareness to combat the use of child solders in armed conflict and reinforcing their rights in armed conflict;

3. reinforcing the ability of local communities and authorities to deal with child victims of armed conflict, primarily through capacity-building.

This project has been implemented in partnership with UNICEF, the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE), Child Soldiers International, World Vision International, Save the Children, local NGOs and the local community network.

In 2014, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI) financed operations to support women and child victims of violence in the Central African Republic, in collaboration with UNICEF.

Updated on : 24.11.14

Useful links:

-  The two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
-  EU Guidelines on the Rights of the Child
-  Website of the NGO Save the Children

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