Home Institution

Spelman University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Switzerland: International Studies and Multilateral Diplomacy


Children’s rights have been violated for centuries. These violations of children’s rights may include but are not limited to a child's access to education, adequate food or quality health care. Over the last few years there have been a rising number of prevalent issues that impact children, including trafficking, slave labor, and unaccompanied minors (UAM) migrating from their countries of origin to new host states in North America and Europe. The issue of unaccompanied minors migrating to Europe has been prevalent for years. "In most EU member states arrivals started during the 1990's. I'd say the issue became prevalent at the end of the nineties- beginning of the 2000's, even though some States (Germany) have received unaccompanied asylum seeking children since the 1970's."[1] But, due to the high numbers of children migrating alone attention has been drawn towards these children's rights. Throughout the various EU member states shortcomings in the protection of children’s rights have warranted international attention. The difficulty with many of the member states is that they do not acknowledge unaccompanied minors as children and thus the member states laws and policies vary.

"Regardless of the child's situation it is the States responsibility to protect the child against sexual exploitation or any other forms of violence. States must not discriminate against children, and should listen to their rights and well-being and involve them in every decision relating to them. States are also obliged to protect children against poverty."[2] Though a number of NGOs such as, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the European Court of Human Rights and the European Committee on Social Rights have begun to make a conscious effort to protect the rights of children efforts must still be made to protect the rights Unaccompanied Minors.2 Due to the fact that a number of EU member have different ways that they handle unaccompanied minors rights children are subjected to deplorable living situations, children are being abandoned, refused, and excluded from care provisions and therefore become unprotected.1 This lack of protection sometimes leads to children being sold into sex slavery, and most recently disappearing from detention centers all because their rights are not being protected and acknowledged. Therefore it seems ideal for the EU member states to develop a consensus on how to protect the rights of Unaccompanied Minors. Member states can begin to do so by agreeing to and following the regulations set in place by the European Commission Action Plan. Until this is done Unaccompanied Minors basic rights as children will continue to be abused.

[1] Daniel Senovilla-Poitiers University, Formal Interview, Geneva Switzerland, Nov. 10, 2011

[2] Council of Europe-Commissioner for Human Rights, Children’s Rights,

http://www.coe.int/t/commissioner/Activities/themes/default_en.asp (June 25,2011)


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Immigration Law | Inequality and Stratification | Juvenile Law