Lade Inhalt...

The general situation of refugee children in view of the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child and their status in the Federal Republic of Germany

Seminararbeit 2008 15 Seiten

Jura - Europarecht, Völkerrecht, Internationales Privatrecht


Table of contents

A) Introduction

B) The circumstances of refugee children

C) The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

D) Refugee children in the Federal Republic of Germany
I. Countries of Origin and fleeing reasons
II. The National Coalition for the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Germany (NC)
III. Children's Rights in the view of German Federal Law

E) Conclusion

List of literature

A) Introduction

Refugee children suffer from war or other forms of persecution in their countries of origin, many even continue to suffer human rights violations in the countries in which they seek asylum. Around half of the world's refugees are children, yet their rights and special supporting and protection needs as children are frequently neglected.[1] The human rights violations that force children to flee from their homes are only a part of the hardships for many child refugees. Even after travelling across an international border to seek refuge, they remain vulnerable to hazardous labour exploitation, denial of education, physical abuse, routine detention, sexual abuse, cross-border attacks, militarization of refugee camps, and recruitment as soldiers.[2]

The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of the circumstances of refugee children, the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child and describe the asylum-juridical contact with refugee children in the Federal Republic of Germany and above all examine, whether and to which extent this contact is contradictory to the central concern of the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child.

B) The circumstances of refugee children

Adolescent- and child refugees are differentiated into accompanied and unaccompanied.[3] Accompanied are those who flee with their parents and siblings, members of their family or other important bonding figures and role models. It is assumed that currently around 100,000 unaccompanied minors exist as refugees in Europe.[4]

Children and adolescents are the most vulnerable and in need of support and protection. When children are removed from their normal cultural, economical and social environment, it may generate serious psychological problems such as a disruption of the emotional development and a profound sense of disorientation due to loss of role models like parents and relatives.[5] Furthermore, children are in jeopardy of loosing their cultural identity after a separation from their native environment, due to the fact that children conform faster to new environments and circumstances than adults who have a stronger bond with their native country.[6] This shows a unique dynamic of refugee children: they are still developing, and therefore every influence has a strong impact on their psychological development. The negative impact is even stronger if children suffer from stress, violence and witness any form of cruelty.

C) The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Internationally there are different agreements on the Rights of a child, for example the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, the 1969 Organisation of African Unity Convention and the leading 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), which specify and demand children’s rights, including those of refugee children. It is noteworthy that the understanding of childhood is changing. In the mentioned agreements, children are no longer seen as the possession of their parents, particularly the father, or as incomplete adults, but as people with their own right in a special phase their lives. They are considered valuable in themselves and worthy of support, protection, though needing assistance and instruction for their development.[7] This view also caused a change regarding their rights and the duties of those who if falls upon to support them. Governments and other institutions are now obliged to provide decent living conditions for children, which encourages their development. This has to be seen as a duty and not a mere moralistic pretence of sympathy.

The UN-CRC was passed on the 20th of November, 1989. 41 articles formulate fundamental rights, especially those concerning children.

Article 1 UN-CRC regulates for whom these rights are applicable. It states how old a person has to be, to be considered as a child and therefore protected by the Convention. According to this a child is every person who has not yet completed their eighteenth year of life, unless there is a different regulation in the law of the signatory states.

Article 22 of the UN-CRC grants special protection to refugee children. Refugee children who are not being cared for by their parents are entitled to further protection. Refugee children fleeing from war are also entitled to special protection under Article 38 UN-CRC, as children affected by armed conflict. Like all children, they are also entitled to all other rights granted under the Convention including the rights to life (Article 5), physical integrity (Article 17), adequate food and medical care (Article 24), education (Article 29), and to be free from discrimination (Article 2), exploitation, and abuse (Article 19).

For a better understanding the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has summarised the "rights of the child" in four important legal areas:[8]

Survival Rights: the rights, which are meant to ensure the survival of the child (food, housing, medical care).

Development Rights: These are the rights which guarantee the development of the child (education, playing, school, freedom of the thinking, the conscience and the religion).

Protection Rights: these rights shall protect children from exploitation, abuse and arbitrary separation of their families.

Participation Rights: these rights assure a free expression of opinion and guarantee a voice in all things concerning children.

Article 42 UN-CRC obliges the signatory's states to “make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike.

Nonetheless, the children's rights are not directly enforceable.[9] In case of an offence against personal rights the youth welfare department may possibly intervene. The saturation of political children’s rights are dealt with by child and youth offices, children’s rights groups, child commissions or Child-and Youth parliaments.

In spite of the fact that the Convention is not a special refugee treaty it covers as shown, every aspect of a child’s life such as health and education as well as social and political rights.[10] Due to this broad protection the CRC can be used as a primary basis if there is no other refugee treaty.[11] This makes the CRC a powerful tool for the protection of children’s rights, which up to now have been ratified by 193 states.[12]

The Children's Rights Committee of the United Nations examines with the help of regular reports from the signatory's states, whether and how the implementation of the UN-CRC is promoted and observed in the signatory states.

In addition the Committee is also able to ask for statements to certain questions of UNICEF and other responsible places.[13]




[3] “Unaccompanied children and adolescents are children and adolescents, who have not yet reached 18 years-old, who live outside their native country, and who are separated from both their parents, and are not looked after by an adult, who is obliged, by law or by custom, to look after them“Separated Children in Europe Programme SCEP, Statement of Good Practice,

[4] Refugees at Europe's Borders: The Moral Economy of Care. Watters TRANSCULT PSYCHIATRY. 2007; 44: Page 406

[5] Children in armed conflicts and child refugees Chapter 77, P. 455 ff.

[6] Children in armed conflicts and child refugees Chapter 77, P. 455 ff.

[7] Sonia Human, The Theory of Children's Rights P. 156ff.


[9] Frans Viljoen, Supra-national human rights instruments for the protection of children in Africa: The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child S. 204.

[10] Children in armed conflicts and child refugees Chapter 77, P. 450

[11] Children in armed conflicts and child refugees Chapter 77, P. 450


[13] Art. 45 UN-CRC.


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
416 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Universität Stellenbosch
UN-Convention Rights Child Federal Republic Germany International Children’s



Titel: The general situation of refugee children in view of the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child and their status in the Federal Republic of Germany