Council of Europe Urges Minors to be Protected from Radicalization

Because some children may be particularly exposed to terrorist associations and organizations’ messaging, notably through social media, the Council of Europe has proposed a set of steps to assist its 47 member states in better protecting children from radicalization for terrorism. 

The recommendation adopted today by the Committee of Ministers, prepared by the Committee on Counter-Terrorism (CDCT), focuses on the protection of children (with special attention given to children who have experienced or witnessed violence and trauma) through the involvement of first-line practitioners, civil society, and the private sector, as well as the need to develop prevention strategies that take into account the best interests of the child. 

Member states are being encouraged to assist children’s families and caregivers in meeting their needs, to protect children from the risks, exposure, and harm associated with violent extremist ideas and activities, to provide healthy environments for their development, and to strengthen their participation in society. 

To be effective in preventing the radicalization of children, first-line practitioners (in schools and other educational institutions, youth workers and professionals in child protection services, institutions for juvenile offenders, social services, public health, and sports and youth clubs) should have clear mandates, preferably established by law, the necessary resources, and proper training. 

The Committee of Ministers urges governments to consider this suggestion when creating internal laws and reviewing practices, as well as to boost international and domestic cooperation to avoid radicalization and improve information and best practices exchange. 

The Council of Europe has developed a number of tools over the years, including the Counter-Terrorism Strategy (2018-2022), the Child Rights Strategy (2016-2021), the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (2005) and its Additional Protocol (2015), the Recommendation on Terrorists Acting Alone, guidelines on child-friendly justice, and guidelines to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of children.