On 13 October, the project "Children's Rights in Development" arranged a seminar for journalists on the topic "Strengthening Children’s Rights in Development Cooperation". The seminar took place in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 2014.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most successful human rights treaty – on paper at least: 194 countries have acknowledged it as binding. However, the reality tells a different story: globally, around 60 million children have no access to education, 168 million boys and girls have to work, often under conditions akin to slavery. Abuse, marginalisation and an uncertain future for these children are normal; and yet children’s needs such as education, clean drinking water, sufficient nourishment, a child-friendly, safe environment and a good quality of life are legal rights, not acts of charity.
On 13 October, representatives from the media, civil society, academia, staff of the German Institute for Human Rights and UN youth delegates joined for speeches and discussion on topics such as entitlement and reality of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the context of development cooperation, how to strengthen children’s rights on a global scale, and the participation of young people in international negotiations. Patrick Rohde, UN Youth Delegate 2012 and Heidrun Fritze, spokesperson for Young UN Network Germany (Junges UNO-Netzwerk Deutschland e. V.) made it clear that children and young people cannot be viewed and reported on as a single, homogenous group: "There is no one kind of young German person", said Heidrun Fritze. It is thus important not to trivialise children and young people in media reports, but rather to consider them as (young) people in their own right.
In the afternoon of the same day, Markus Löning, former Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner and current independent consultant for "Human Rights & Responsible Business", together with Manfred Liebel, Director of ‘M.A. Childhood Studies and Children's Rights’ at the Freie Universität Berlin, discussed the topics of children’s rights and the economy. One of the points of discussion was child labour and media reporting surrounding this controversial topic. Generally, countries as well as human rights organisations take a stand against child labour. At the beginning of August, the first law of its kind was passed in Bolivia legalising child labour under certain circumstances. Liebel highlighted that the exemplary involvement of children and young people in the two-year drafting process had allowed their perspectives to gain consideration. As such, a more balanced kind of media reporting is necessary for the topic of child labour.
Program of the seminar (in German)
On 2 June 2014, the project "Children’s Rights in Development" offered a workshop on children’s rights for the employees of the Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims. Participants came to Berlin from six treatment centres for torture victims in the autonomous region of Kurdistan (Iraq). The 16 child and youth psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists stayed in Berlin for a comprehensive training workshop from 2 – 6 June as part of an EU-financed project for the development of civil society in Iraq. The 5-day workshop was organised by The Berlin Treatment Centre for Torture Victims (Berliner Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer e. V., bzfo), long-time partner of the Kirkuk Center. Salah Ahmed, member of the bzfo, is Director of the Kirkuk Center, having founded it in 2005.
The aim of the 5-day workshop was to offer the employees of the Kirkuk Center for Torture Victims an insight into the various institutions which work in the field of child protection in Germany. Since the year 2011, a domestic violence law has been in place in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq which is also designed to protect children. However, child protection institutions do not yet exist there and as such, the workshop participants are keen to promote their development in their region through targeted lobbying. Lissa Bettzieche, Policy Adviser at the Institute, discussed the legal basis for children’s rights and explained the obligations of States for their implementation, as well as the enforceability of children’s rights on a national and international level. Iraq ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994. The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) and the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC) were ratified in 2008. (lb)
Further information on the project "Children's Rights in Development"
Reading "Peter is the smallest giant ("Peter ist der allerkleinste Riese") - Impressions of Disability in Children's Literature" with Leidmedien.de
There are not many children’s books which feature children with disabilities, and not all of them are successful. At the reading on 19 March in the Institute Library, arranged by the project "Children’s Rights in Development", Raul Krauthausen and Andi Weiland from Leidmedien.de presented a number of positive and negative examples. These showed how widely the portrayals of disability differ and how children’s literature can serve to oppose or, alternatively, to strengthen stereotypes of disabilities. The discussion was moderated by Meike Günther, Policy Adviser in the Department of Human Rights Education at the Institute.