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The Treaty addressing the Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989 in order to ensure the rights of children and adolescents, for example, to 'education, an upbringing free of violence and to rest and leisure'. The Convention is the first treaty that establishes international recognition for the human rights of children and, in its 54 articles, sets out internationally-binding minimum standards in the best interests of children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 18.

These articles may be grouped into three categories of childrens' rights: Protective rights, promotional rights and rights of participation. They are also called the '3 P' based on the English terms protection, provision and participation.

Protection from violence, abuse and neglect, the right to know his or her parents and the right to life (protection), for example Articles 6, 8, 19, 32, 33, 34, etc.; Promotional rights to the highest standard of health, social security, education and leisure time (provisions), for example Articles 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, etc. Rights that emphasis the subject status of the child, such as rights of cooperation, the opportunity to be heard and rights of participation in all matters affecting the child (participation), for example Articles 12, 13, etc.

    Best Interests of the Child

    Above all, the principle found in Article 3 of the CRC that the best interests of the child are to be given primary consideration 'in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies'. The Article codifies the fundamental principle underlying the entire Convention - the child is recognised as a subject within the system of international law. All of the later Articles set out in the Convention add detail to the principles set out in Article 3. 

    Ratification by Germany

    Ten years after its adoption, Germany ratified the Convention and it became effective on 5 April 1992. It has been ratified nearly universally and thus represents the human rights convention with the highest degree of acceptance amongst the international community. The principles established in the Convention obligate states to take actions to create a framework for the development of children and adolescents.

    The additional Protocols

    To date, three optional protocols have been adopted in response to gaps in the Convention that were recognised over time. The first two (Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography) were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 May 2000 and have likewise been ratified by more than 100 contracting states. The third, recently adopted protocol on the rights of individual petition was adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 2011 and was ratified by Germany as the third country world-wide on 20 November 2012.