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Children's and young people's rights

Children's and young people's rights in German development policy

Children sleep on the ground after arriving from Pakistan to a refugees transition center near Kabul, Afghanistan.

Human rights – and therefore the rights of children and young people as well – are the foundation on which the democratic, economic, social and cultural de­vel­op­ment of a coun­try is built. Respecting, pro­tect­ing and ful­fill­ing human rights is therefore the guiding principle of German de­vel­op­ment policy.

Germany has ratified basic in­ter­national human rights treaties, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has thus given an undertaking to realise children's and young people's rights. At the end of the 1990s, the Federal Ministry for Economic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (BMZ) was one of the first bilateral official donors in the world to address issues specifically concerning children and young people.

A large number of de­vel­op­ment measures are directly or indirectly aimed at children and young people: directly, for example, programmes to develop and strengthen the youth sector, efforts to improve the food situ­a­tion, measures concerned with basic education or health, programmes to fight the worst forms of child labour, including child trafficking, and to re­inte­grate child soldiers; indirectly, for example, projects concerned with advising governments on policy and promoting economic de­vel­op­ment, projects to protect the en­vi­ron­ment and natural resources, and projects for rural or urban de­vel­op­ment.

The human rights-based approach in German develop­ment cooperation

In order to deepen the systematic mainstreaming of human rights in German de­vel­op­ment policy, in May 2011 the BMZ presented its strategy paper Human Rights in German De­vel­op­ment Policy. It follows on from the BMZ's de­vel­op­ment policy action plans for hu­man rights for the period from 2004 to 2010. The BMZ's human rights strategy makes it clear that realising human rights is the basis and the goal of Germany's de­vel­op­ment policy.

The human rights-based approach expressly includes the rights of young people, which means the rights of children and of youths up to the age of 24. The BMZ's concept for this target group is outlined in more detail in a position paper from 2011, "Young people in German de­vel­op­ment policy – a contribution to the implementation of the rights of children and youth".

Multi-level commitment

The de­vel­op­ment activities aimed at realising the rights of children and young people address different levels:

  • At the political level, the governments of the coun­tries where Germany is engaged in co­op­er­a­tion activities are advised on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other inter­national agree­ments. For example, they are assisted in elaborating, further de­vel­op­ing and implementing appropriate legislation and policies, and in drafting national and local action plans for children and young people.
  • At the institutional level, capacity-building and network-building is supported. This means supporting, for instance, ministries responsible for children and young people, local authorities working with children and young people, and civil society organisations that offer youth programmes.  Networking between these institutions is also im­por­tant.
  • At the individual level, the focus is on training both male and female youth workers, youth social workers and youth leaders. Priority is given to empowering children and young people, especially at the local level. They are not just the target group for specific de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion measures; they are also players and partners.

In addition, efforts are made to specifically promote and realise children's and young people's rights in various areas of de­vel­op­ment work:

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