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International Legal Framework

Here is a list of key reference documents that orient our daily work:

European Union

The European Parliament and the Council adopted two leading directives to protect children and impose safeguards in the field of child friendly justice:

Other important directives are applied to persons in conflict with the law but can also be applied to children:

In the last few years, the European Commission has adopted strategies which aim to make rights known to those involved, such as the Strategy on the Rights of the Child. Furthermore, they ensure the implementation of EU policies and actions in Member States through the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee to promote dialogue with local and regional authorities and civil society.


To encourage judicial systems to adapt to the needs of children in the Members States, the European Commission has adopted :

And also :


The EU institutions are also active in conducting research, encouraging changes in practice and the application of these directives through the creation of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) which has developed several tools in this area such as:


The Council of Europe has created various standards and guidelines in the field of child friendly justice. These standards aim at improving the justice system and adapting it to the specific needs of children.


The most important resource developed in 2019 by the Council was the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on child-friendly justice. These guidelines are a practical tool based on existing international and European standards which governments are encouraged to use as a basis for their law reform in the area of child friendly justice. 

The most extensive set of standards on child friendly justice (guidelines, strategies and reports) are contained in:


The Committee of Ministers of the Council adopted various recommendations to member States relating to child friendly justice. The recommendation is a non-binding instrument and it is on matters for which the Committee has agreed “a common policy”; but, the article 15.b) of the Statute of the Council of Europe permits the Committee to ask member governments “to inform it of the action taken by them” in regard to recommendations.


A series of recommendations include the interest of the child and are included in the document:


More generally, various recommendations were adopted in the context of the efforts following the Rome Conference 2000 to improve the efficiency of the Convention System; they are also applicable to children:


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. To guide and encourage the implementation of the rights enshrined in the CRC, the Committee on the Rights of the child published General Comments. Some of them are particularly relevant to guide our work:

  • General Comment 6 on treatment of unaccompanied and separated children outside their country of origin (2005);

  • General Comment 12 on the right of the child to be heard (2009);

  • General Comments 14 on the right of the child to have his or her best interests taken as a primary consideration (2013), and

  • General Comment 24 on children’s rights in the child justice system (2019) (which replaces General Comment No. 10).

Detailed recommendations on child friendly justice have been made in key international instruments, adopted as resolutions of the UN General Assembly. These include:


The UN Global Study on Children Deprived on Liberty Detention (2019) contains research findings and recommendations for future action on deprivation of liberty in five contexts : administration of justice, institutions, context of armed conflict, migration and national security grounds.


Important publications were published by various UN bodies and agencies:

If you need more info on the UNCRC, it is also available the child friendly version of the Convention (English Français Español) and information on the membership of the Committee (English | Français | Español) !

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