The key source of explanation and interpretation of the UN human rights conventions are the General Comments of the UN treaty bodies. They use the General Comments to explain human rights norms, and they may comment on issues which are of particular importance for the human rights convention in question.
Since the articles in the UN human rights conventions which deal with the norms are usually very brief, the General Comments serve to more closely define States parties’ human rights obligations.
In ratifying the UN human rights conventions, States parties accept that the UN treaty bodies play a central role in interpreting the conventions. General Comments are thus an authoritative source of interpretation of the obligatory regulations as laid out in the individual UN human rights conventions, even if the General Comments are not strictly binding in a legal sense.
Since 2001, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published a total of 18 General Comments. In order to make the essential content of the General Comments more widely available, the German Institute for Human Rights has summarised the General Comments 1, 2, 10 and 12 and has made suggestions for their use by development practitioners. These summaries are available as part of the series "ABC of Children’s Rights" in German and English:
The summary for development practitioners provide:
The German and English summaries of the General Comments were written in cooperation with the Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Kirsten Sandberg, and Renate Winter, Austrian member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We would like to thank them both for their kind and fruitful cooperation.