Children’s rights


France’s actions for children’s rights

At the international level

France has acceded to 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 three Optional Protocols on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000), on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (PDF 2.27 MB) (2000), and on a Communications Procedure (ratified in 2014).

Every year, as a member of the European Union and alongside the Latin American and Caribbean Group, France puts forward a resolution reaffirming children’s rights to the United Nations General Assemblyand the Human Rights Council. It actively promotes increased child protection in the face of today’s challenges. France also advocates for particular attention to be paid to the rights of girls, for access to education for all girls and boys and for a stronger fight against all forms of violence against children.

Furthermore, France submits periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the dedicated Committee. When the latest report was examined in January 2016, the Committee highlighted the constructive nature of the dialogue with the French delegation. In its conclusions, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the ratification of several international instruments, as well as the adoption of internal legislative measures to increase child protection.

At the European level

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and under its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, France organized a major conference on the challenges facing children’s rights today, notably in the context of the development of digital technology. 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.

France also 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).

Protecting children in armed conflict

In 2018, more than 13,600 children were freed from the control of armed groups or forces worldwide. However, 24,000 grave violations were nonetheless committed against children and an alarming increase in the killing and maiming of children was observed.

France played a key role in the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005), which set up a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict. Under this mechanism, the Secretary-General of the United Nations publishes an annual report listing the parties to armed conflict responsible for grave violations against children (armed groups or regular forces). A Security Council working group then meets to decide on the actions to be taken by the various players in the most concerning situations. In addition, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict negotiates concrete action plans with the parties listed in the annual report. Grave violations are defined as the killing or maiming of children, the recruitment or use of child soldiers, sexual violence against children, attacks on schools and hospitals, refusal of humanitarian access to children, and abduction of children.

In February 2007, France, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), organized the “Free Children from War” conference. Following this event, the Paris Principles and Commitments, guidelines for combatting the recruitment of children to armed forces, were adopted. They have since been endorsed by 109 States. To take the matter further, on 21 February 2017, France and UNICEF organized the “Protecting Children from War” ministerial conference in order to assess the work carried out and boost international mobilization on that issue.

Actions taken by France to promote effective implementation of children’s rights

France’s commitment to the rights of girls is reflected in concrete actions. This year, in partnership with the French Committee for UNICEF, it launched a matching fund for the empowerment of girls in Mauritania, based on innovative financing: the government contributes one euro for every euro collected by the project’s donation campaign. Thanks to this programme, which provides more training and cultural activities and raises awareness of citizenship, girls will be in control of their own future and thus able to participate actively in public life. France has also embarked upon a long-term programme to promote education and training for girls and to combat gender-based violence in schools through multi-country projects.

France considers access to education a priority and therefore funds numerous projects around the world that promote access to quality education for all children, often contributing to long-term stabilization in crisis areas.

France also has a long tradition of supporting maternal and child healthcare in the areas where it is most urgently needed, notably through the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

In June 2019, France took over the presidency of the Global Partnership created under the Sustainable Development Goals (Alliance 8.7), which aims to eradicate child labour by 2025 by bringing together all the stakeholders, not only States and international organizations, but also social partners, businesses and non-governmental organizations.

Last updated: November 2017

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