The Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organisation. It includes 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union.

Historically, children have been treated as an extension of their families, and their rights as individuals have rarely been considered or put forward. The family and the state are indeed at the forefront of the protection of children’s rights. Unfortunately, while there is an obligation to act and decide in the child’s best interest, children’s rights are often violated by those who have the responsibility to care for them. It is very difficult for children to claim their rights. They are rather expected to adapt, follow instructions and meet adults’ expectations. To better protect and promote their rights in its 47 member States, the Council of Europe transversal Programme “Building a Europe for and with children” has consistently promoted work around the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter, the Lanzarote Convention, the Istanbul Convention, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and other legal standards, thus covering a wide range of rights and addressing the specific problems that children face.

Violence is one of the most common violations of children’s human rights. The acceptance and social tolerance of corporal punishment are indicators of the lower status granted to children. Alongside the promotion of legal standards there is a consistent effort to challenge and address social norms and practices that condone, tolerate or perpetuate violence against children. This calls for political leadership and intense work in fields such as education, justice, information society, migration, social services and support to families. Since 2008, the Council of Europe has led the effort to achieve a Europe-wide ban of corporal punishment. Although important progress has been achieved, some 15 member states have not yet introduced a specific legal ban of all corporal punishment of children, in spite of this being consistently declared a breach of the Charter.