World Children’s Day: Joint Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative
November 21, 2023
The European Union is committed to building a better present and a better future for all children, also in line with the EU Strategy on the rights of the child, the Youth Action Plan in EU external action and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy.
On this World Children’s Day, the EU is particularly concerned for the well-being of children living in situations of armed conflict, forced displacement and protracted humanitarian crises. Unfortunately, our television screens and social media feeds are full of the daily horrors inflicted upon children around the world – be it from Gaza to Ukraine, terrorist attacks in Israel, from the Sahel region to Yemen and Myanmar.*
Children do not start conflicts; they deserve and need peace.
Children affected by armed conflict suffer from grave violations of their rights, including abduction, killing and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of access to humanitarian aid. Children are inherently more vulnerable to the immediate and longer-term consequences of such emergencies, which increase their vulnerability to trafficking, threaten their physical and mental health, deprive them of access to basic social services, health care, education, and parental care, and undermine their right to life, development, and opportunities to reach their full potential.
The situation of children is our key focus, and we aim to mitigate the threats faced by them and ensure their lives and their rights are preserved. In this regard, we wish to reiterate the child-centred approach of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2712 on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and the need for full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas and other groups, especially children.
The EU is committed to putting children at the heart of its efforts to prevent and respond to such emergencies. In its work to ensure the protection of children affected by armed conflict, the EU is guided by relevant international and regional norms and standards on human rights and humanitarian law.