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Juncker Commission, children and Mare Nostrum

an article by Slavatore Parata,Head of European Office and Communication  and Lavinia Liardo, EU Advocacy Officer.

Brussels, 1st November 20141st and 20th November 2014: two dates, twenty days. The first is the official entry in function of the new “Juncker” European Commission. The latter is the official celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. To play this calendar game, on Friday 31st October, the Italian Government officially announced the end of the “Mare Nostrum” operation aimed at saving lives of thousands of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. A calendar coincidence? May be. But for children, for children on the move and for Terre des Hommes no doubts: this is not a game, these are political “turning points”. The UN, the EU, Mare Nostrum and Triton: what’s happening?

The “Juncker” European Commission and the Rights of the Child

The new “Juncker” European Commission (EC) has raised the political and institutional profile of “Human Rights”, “Fundamental Rights”, “Child Rights” and “Migration” policies. This is one of the novelty of the new EC architecture. Indeed, EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans, as right hand” of President Juncker, will have the political authority to ensure that the European Union’s policy comply with the principles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which in turn includes  key principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in its Article 24,  namely the respect for the best interests of the child and the right of children to participate in all decisions affecting them (Article 24).

In such perspective, Terre des Hommes have been calling the new European Commission to develop a second EU Strategy for the Rights of the Child, as the first one is at its final term in 2014. Ahead of Frans Timmermans’ hearings in the European Parliament, Terre des Hommes together with others child rights NGOs (Child Rights Action Group) invited Members of the European Parliament to ask Timmermans how the EC will meet its treaty obligation to promote and protect children’s rights in all EU action and stressed out the need to develop comprehensive strategy on the rights of the child. Considering that 2014 marks the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ratified by all 28 EU Member States, the question is encompassing a clear political relevance. In other terms, how will the EU comply with legal obligations towards the UN Human Rights system for child rights?

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