Children's Rights Day: These rights have children

Right to leisure, play and recreation

These rights have children

07.10.2019, 12:12 | CM, cch,

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Children’s rights are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was signed by almost all states. Nevertheless, there is often still a lack of concrete implementation of these rights – especially in structurally weaker countries. Here you can find out what fundamental rights children have at all and what successes have been recorded so far.

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UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: a global convention

To strengthen children’s rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (full title: Convention on the Rights of the Child) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989. With the exception of the USA, all UN member states have ratified this agreement.

The Convention lays down standards for the protection of children and the UN monitors compliance with children’s rights. Every five years, states must submit a report on the situation of children in their country and discuss it with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Every ten years or so, the UN Special General Assembly on Children, the so-called World Summit on Children, takes place. The day of the signing of the Convention, 20 November, has been International Children’s Rights Day since 1989.

54 articles and ten fundamental rights

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child comprises 20 pages and 54 articles. Of these, 40 articles contain concrete rights of children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is based on four basic principles:

  • the right to equal treatment
  • the primacy of the best interests of the child
  • the right to life and development
  • respect for the opinion of the child

This gives rise to many individual rights. They can roughly be divided into three groups:

  • Supply rights: This includes the right to a name and an entry in a birth register, but also the rights to basic care, food and clothing, social security and education.
  • Protection rights: Children also have the right to protection from physical or psychological violence, maltreatment or neglect, economic exploitation and sexual abuse.
  • Cultural, information and participation rights: This group includes freedom of expression and access to information and media, but also freedom of thought, religion and leisure, and participation in cultural life.

Unicef, the UN Children’s Fund, has established the following ten fundamental rights:

  • Right to equality
  • Right to health
  • Right to education
  • Right to leisure, play and recreation
  • Right to own opinion
  • Right to non-violent upbringing
  • Right to protection against economic and sexual exploitation
  • Right to protection in war and flight
  • Right to a family, parental care and a safe home
  • Right to care in the event of disability

The fundamental rights apply to boys and girls up to the age of 18, regardless of religion, origin or skin colour.

Children’s rights in Germany

The Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force in Germany on 5 April 1992. No children’s rights are enshrined in the Basic Law itself. Article 6, however, deals with the family. On the one hand, the paragraph stipulates that the care and upbringing of children is the duty of the parents. On the other hand, legitimate and illegitimate children must be treated equally.

Children’s rights are also enshrined in most state constitutions. Only in Hamburg this is not the case. According to the German Children’s Fund, there are target, mandatory and optional formulations at the municipal level. In Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt there are no regulations at this level. Since 2007, the campaign “Children’s Rights in the Basic Law” has been running, which is committed to anchoring these rights in the constitution. The current coalition agreement between CDU, CSU and SPD provides exactly that.

In Germany the conditions for children are relatively good. However, some aid organisations point to pent-up demand in several areas. The Geneva UN Committee on the Rights of the Child calls for better measures to combat child poverty and more support for disadvantaged children and children with a migration background. The German Children’s Fund, on the other hand, would like to see children’s rights made more widely known and children and young people given greater consideration in political decisions.

Right to life: Child mortality decreased

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed by almost all states. Although implementation does not always run smoothly, Unicef can regularly report a positive development in its annual reports. For example, according to Unicef, infant mortality among children under the age of five has fallen by more than half worldwide over the past 25 years. Nevertheless, according to United Nations estimates, 5.4 million children still die each year. Diseases that could easily be avoided are often the cause.

Children’s rights worldwide: successes and grievances

The right to education (Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child) is at least a fundamental right in more and more countries. In 2008, 89 per cent of children worldwide attended primary school – in 2000 this figure was only 71 per cent. But around 75 million children between the ages of three and 18 are still not attending school worldwide. According to Unicef, there is also room for improvement in the quality of school teaching in many countries.

The situation is more dramatic for the protection of children in conflict and crisis areas. According to a 2018 report by Save the Children, one in six children worldwide grows up in a crisis area. This is a total of 357 million children – 75 percent more than in the early 1990s.

Use as child soldiers

It is estimated that up to 250,000 child soldiers are deployed worldwide, reports Unicef. Every year, the organization publishes a so-called “List of Shame”. It lists all countries in whose armies or armed groups minors serve. These include, for example, Southern Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Also in Afghanistan, Mali or Myanmar girls and boys would be used as child soldiers or helpers by armed groups.

A comprehensive implementation of children’s rights in the sense of the Convention on the Rights of the Child continues to be a challenge for the international community and its individual states. Above all, it is difficult for structurally weaker countries in which living conditions are fundamentally difficult to implement the necessary measures.

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