Realising children's rights – Safeguarding the future

Children in Windhoek, Namibia

Background: Children represent hope for the future

Children and young people are the biggest population group in almost all developing countries. For example, on average nearly one in every two people in Africa is younger than 18 years of age. These young people represent hope for the future for their countries. It is they who will chiefly determine whether urgently needed social and political change can be realised. Yet the rights of millions of children are violated and abused in a multitude of ways. Obstacles which reduce their opportunities in life include, in particular, extreme poverty, serious diseases such as malaria and AIDS, a lack of educational opportunities and poor governance. Armed conflicts exacerbate the situation. more

International human rights agreements to protect children and young people

In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 the UN stressed that children have a right to "special care and assistance". Their fundamental rights are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989. In addition, young people’s special need to be protected and encouraged in their development has now been incorporated into numerous other international agreements and declarations. more

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

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 the fundamental 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. more

Further information

Here is a selection of documents and websites with further information on children's rights and young people's rights. more

BMZ glossary

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