The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) calls for children to have access to ways to bring individual complaints in addition to the "classic" methods of bringing a legal complaint – the latter being available to children only by way of their parents or legal guardians.
This refers to complaint mechanisms that are readily accessible to all children and allow complaints to be handled effectively through child-friendly procedures.
With the entry into force of the individual complaints procedure under the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention, the UN CRC itself has afforded a means for children to bring complaints of this kind to the UN treaty body in Geneva since 2012. Germany – unlike many other countries – does not currently have a complaints mechanism at the national level comparable to the UN individual complaints procedure, through which both children, irrespective of their age, and adults have the right to bring complaints. The UNICEF study also made this clear.
Nonetheless, procedures for bringing individual complaints are becoming increasingly widespread in the immediate environment of children, such as at schools and childcare centres in Germany. These are usually in-house complaint mechanisms as required by section 45 of Book 8 of the German Social Code (Child and Youth Services Act) (SGB VIII (Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz)) though, not complaint receiving bodies of the type envisaged by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its General Comment No. 2: independent bodies which might, for example, have the authority to instruct other bodies to take specific action.
Since first taking up its work, the National CRC Monitoring Mechanism has been actively exploring the question of what a complaints mechanism for children in Germany in line with UN CRC requirements might look like.
It has consulted on this question a number of times with organisations and individuals from civil society, including children and adolescents themselves, that already handle children’s complaints.
It has also exchanged information and views with bodies charged with protecting and promoting children’s interests, and in individual discussions with the few Länder commissioners for children’s affairs that exist in Germany and also with the children’s affairs committees of the parliaments of Bavaria and Lower Saxony.
The National CRC Monitoring Mechanism intends to develop recommendations for the establishment and/or expansion of complaint mechanisms for children and adolescents in their immediate environment as required by the UN CRC. The very wide range of bodies and procedures that already exist in the country will serve as the basis for these recommendations. Its approach is entirely in accord with that already developed for the realisation of children’s rights by civil society.
National Coaliton Deutschland - Netzwerk zur Umsetzung der UN-Kinderrechtskonvention (2014): Die Kinderrechtskonvention umsetzen: Monitoring, Datenerhebung und -auswertung, regierungsinterne Koordination und Beschwerdemanagement (PDF, 359 KB)