Children’s rights in France: between fatigue and hope

From 13-14 January 2016, the State’s report of France went under the microscope of the CRC Committee. DCI-France and colleagues from the network Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Enfant (AEDE) were in attendance. A delegation of children and youths also participated in the session, and were able to conduct an interview with Ms Idrissi, member of the CRC Committee. You can read their article on the review of France as well as the report of their interview with Ms Idrissi.

In light of the CRC Committee’s concluding observations, DCI-France noted that these new observations seemed rather repetitive from those presented during the previous two reviews in 2004 and 2009. This was particularly echoed in the media, as French press agencies reminded us that France continues to be seen as a “bad student” when it comes to upholding children’s rights. DCI-France is concerned that the French government still has not taken any concrete steps to implement previous recommendations. Children’s right to be heard in the justice system as well as discrimination against children of minority groups (e.g. Roma) and children with disabilities to access their rights, such as education, in a just and equal manner remain areas of particular concern.

Yet, as there is room for improvement, there is hope that comes with it.

First, the strong press coverage of the review before the CRC Committee is not only a result of DCI and AEDE’s effective sensitization campaigns but also a sign that the rights of children are gaining momentum within the public space, an aspect that DCI and AEDE look forward to capitalize on.

Second, the nomination of Laurence Rossignol, who launched and led an inter-ministerial initiative in preparation of the CRC Committee review, as the new Minister for Family, Childhood and Women’s Rights is promising. The symbolic addition and explicit mention of “childhood” in the title of the ministry is a clear sign that the French government aims to implement more concrete measures in regard to child rights. Moreover, since the appointment of Ms Rossignol, civil society organisations that have presented stakeholders’ report to the CRC have been invited to two separate meetings to debate on how the CRC Committee’s concluding observations could be implemented and monitored.

Third, the upcoming entry in force of the Third Optional Protocol to the CRC on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC) is a step in the right direction to promote the effective implementation of the Convention. This protocol allows children to bring complaints about violations of their rights directly to the CRC Committee if they have not found a solution at national level. Its entry in force will enhance the development of a case-by-case jurisprudence, extremely valuable to improve the respect of children’s rights.

DCI and AEDE acknowledge the recent positive steps taken by the French government but recall that the participation of civil society organisations and children themselves is crucial to ensure that all children fully enjoy their rights. In accordance with their plan of action 2016-2020, AEDE members, including DCI-France, will continue their coordinated advocacy and dialogue initiatives with the government to ensure that words will be put into action.

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