Children's rights: France still has work to do

26 June 2023

Gilles Oger

Action Education calls on France to rapidly follow up and implement the recommendations and observations issued by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on 2 June 2023 concerning the situation of children's rights in France and in the context of its international policy.  

Too many children are exposed to violence and discrimination, live in extreme poverty, do not attend school, or are detained because of their parents' immigration status... The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is responsible for analysing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) every 5 years in the countries that have ratified it, issued its conclusions on France on 2 June 2023. The last of these were published in 2016. And the least we can say is that France has a lot of work to do to improve the situation. 



Improving access to education for the most vulnerable children in France


Although the Committee's experts acknowledged the many advances that have been made, including the appointment of a Secretary of State for Children, a National Strategy for Child Protection, the "1,000 first days" plan and an inter-ministerial mobilisation plan against violence, they demanded that France definitively prohibit the detention of all children, stressing that their confinement because of their parent's migratory situation was a violation of children's rights. In particular, they expressed their deep concern about the growing number of children living in poverty in France, especially those living in single-parent families, in precarious housing or in emergency accommodation. In particular, the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged France to eradicate child poverty on its territory, notably by allocating human, technical and financial resources to aid and support programmes for the most vulnerable children and families. He also asked the government to improve access to and the quality of education for marginalised or disadvantaged children, particularly children of foreign origin living in precarious housing. He pointed out that these children still face many difficulties enrolling in school. Action Education, which has been working for a number of years with its partners on the difficulties of school enrolment for children living in precarious housing, had highlighted these issues in the alternative report by the collective Acting Together for the Rights of the Child (AEDE), submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child in December 2022. 



Greater respect for children's rights internationally


Thanks to the advocacy work carried out by the Children's Group, a group of 18 NGOs committed to children's rights around the world, including Action Education, the issue of children's rights as part of France's international cooperation policy was raised at France's hearing before the Committee on the Rights of the Child (9 and 10 May 2023) and was the subject of a Concluding Observation. In its final conclusions, the Committee praised the prioritisation of children's rights within the framework of the Programming law on inclusive development and the fight against global inequalities (LOPDSLIM), This law guides France's development policy as much as its humanitarian actions. But it encouraged France to implement this prioritisation in its development and humanitarian projects, to increase its development aid to 0.7% and to assess the impact of its international cooperation policy on the specific issue of children's rights. 

France will be assessed again by the Committee in eight years' time. It remains to be seen whether progress will have been made by then. Through the advocacy groups of which it is a member (AEDE Collective, Children's Group and the Dynamics of the Convention Aux Actes), Action Education will continue to work to ensure that children's rights are better respected in France and as part of its international solidarity policy. 


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