In 2022, the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth published two national action plans for the implementation of children’s rights in Luxembourg:
- In order to create a national strategy for the coherent implementation of children’s rights, the national action plan “Zesumme fir d’Rechter vum Kand” (Together for Children’s Rights);
- within the framework of the European Child Guarantee, a specific national action plan aimed particularly at vulnerable children at risk of poverty and social exclusion.
The national action plan “Zesumme fir d’Rechter vum Kand” responds to the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the action plan for the European Child Guarantee responds to the recommendation of the Council of Europe of June 14, 2021.
a) Strategy and National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child 2022-2026 (“Zesumme fir d’Rechter vum Kand”)
The National Action Plan on the Rights of the Child responds to the recommendation of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Its 64 actions, divided into 8 areas, were selected according to the priorities identified by the Committee on the Rights of the Child for Luxembourg and communicated in the concluding observations. The plan represents a strong government commitment to children. The strategy will allow for a coherent and transparent implementation of a children’s rights policy at the national level and will help to permanently anchor children’s rights in the different areas of a child’s life.
“Children have rights. As adults, we have to inform them about their rights and to encourage them say to their opinion and claim their rights. That’s why the government has developed a strategy for children’s rights with clear measures and actions against which we, as a society, should also regularly judge ourselves,” emphasised the Minister of Education, Children and Youth on 8 May 2022 during the presentation of the launch of the national action plan.
One of the goals of the strategy is to incorporate the perspective of children. By giving them the opportunity to express themselves and participate in the discussion, children learn to live their rights and become co-creators not only of the process initiated by the strategy, but also of their daily lives. The children’s consultation was launched by the Minister of Education, Children and Youth on 25 September 2022 at the “Kannerrechtsfest”.
In order to inform children about the actions that have been taken, the National Action Plan has been reissued in a child-friendly version (in French and German) and a version for adolescents (in French, German and English).
b) National Action Plan for the European Child Guarantee
In Luxembourg, as in the other countries of the European Union, children are more at risk of poverty than adults.
“This risk is not only a denial of children’s fundamental rights, but it also undermines the future well-being of European societies, as children growing up in poverty will be less likely to reach their full potential. As they grow up, they will be more exposed to the risks of illness, unemployment and low income. Most Member States have given high priority to child poverty issues in their national action plans on social inclusion.” (Council of Europe)
The European Child Guarantee aims to break the intergenerational vicious circle of poverty and social exclusion. It provides guidance and tools for Member States to support children in need. Member States are called upon to consider the specific needs of children from disadvantaged backgrounds and to guarantee those children an effective access to a range of essential services (early childhood education and childcare facilities, schooling and extracurricular activities, health care, etc.).
The Luxembourg Action Plan “Guarantee for Children”, published in July 2022, is an extension of the recommendation “Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage” (2013/112/EU). This action plan identifies children in need and barriers to accessing existing services. It also defines concrete measures to fight child poverty and social exclusion.
Initiatives on a European level
a) Strategies of the Council of Europe
In 2006, the Council of Europe launched its programme “Building a Europe for and with Children”. In order to guide its actions relating to children’s rights, the Council of Europe implements political strategies in cycles. The strategy for children’s rights in Luxembourg is based on the principles adopted by the Council of Europe every five years.
On 23 February 2022, the Committee of Ministers adopted the new strategy for rights of the child (2022-2027). The strategy was launched in Rome on 7 and 8 April 2022 at a high-level conference, co-organised by the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: “Beyond the Horizon: a New Era for the Rights of the Child”. The Council of Europe offers on its portal www.coe.int./children many interesting information and awareness documents, including:
- the Guide for Children and Young People to the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027), adapted for children:
- the Council of Europe’s report on child consultations (for adults).
b) EU Global Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the European Child Guarantee
The global EU strategy on the rights of the child and the European Child Guarantee are major policy initiatives promoted by the European Commission to better protect children, help them fulfil their rights and place them at the centre of EU policy-making. Both initiatives are the result of extensive consultation with citizens, stakeholders and, above all, more than 10,000 children.
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Council recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee. The Child Guarantee project aims to ensure that every child has access to five essential services:
- free education and childcare facilities for young children;
- free schooling (including extracurricular activities and at least one healthy meal each school day);
- free health care;
- a healthy nutrition;
- adequate housing.
The recommendation provides guidance to Member States on integrated strategies to combat child poverty and promote the well-being of children. It goes beyond social assistance and labour market policies to promote access to quality services and the active participation of children. It also underlines the importance of a cohesive EU policy in mobilising reforms.
The EU strategy on children's rights was developed for children and with children. Children must have access to information tailored to their needs so that they know clearly what their rights are and, in this case, what the EU plans to do for them. For this reason, the child-friendly versions of the strategy were created together with children and present the information in an easy-to-understand way.