Children’s rights and the UN SDGs: A priority for EU external action

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Series Details PE 642.285
Publication Date November 2019
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The United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for sustainable development includes a strong commitment by all states to respect human rights, in line with international law and other relevant international documents, in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This covers the rights of the child as enshrined mainly in the UN Covenant on the Rights of the Child and other relevant human rights treaties. No action to implement the SDGs can be detrimental to the rights of the child.

More than a normative framework guiding the implementation of the SDGs, the rights of the child are a fundamental enabling factor for sustainable development and vice versa. Healthy, well-nourished, well-educated children, who are protected from violence and abuse, are the best guarantee of long-term sustainable development. On the other hand, the rights of the child can only be realised in an appropriate environment – peaceful, prosperous, protective of the child and fostering human development. Thus, there is a natural convergence between the SDGs and specific children's rights.

The SDGs, through the comprehensive and regular monitoring they put in place, provide an opportunity for an assessment of the state of the most fundamental rights of the child, as enshrined in the Covenant. Most recent data actually warn that many relevant SDGs may not be achieved by 2030. While progress has been steady in certain areas, particularly on health-related issues, in others, progress has been less conclusive.

The EU prioritises children's rights and relevant SDGs in its external action. It aims at mainstreaming human rights including children's rights in its development assistance to connect the normative and developmental dimensions. The European Parliament has repeatedly defended the need to protect and promote children's rights through EU external action, and has asked the Commission to propose a strategy and action plan in this sense.

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