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Published 14.03.19

Spotlight on Digital Spaces: towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Children's Rights

Stiftung Digitale Chancen

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1989. It was visionary and at the same time comprehensible, binding on the signatory states and thus influential, and it is still of great importance today. Thirty years later, for a comprehensive understanding of how the rights of children codified in the Convention are to be interpreted and implemented in view of the impact of digitisation on their everyday lives, a so-called General Comment is now being drafted for the first time. The proposal submitted by the British 5Rights Foundation with the participation of various stakeholders, including the Children's Rights.digital project, was adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations in February and will be implemented within the next approx. one and a half years.

What is it about?

Today Children are growing up in an increasingly interconnected environment, where digital technologies have a significant impact on their living conditions. By elaboration of a General Comment this situation, and the specific rights of the child playing a key role in it, will be examined more closely. This will also involve clarifying the roles and responsibilities of politicians, businesses, parents, educators and children themselves. The aim of the General Comment is to provide a binding interpretation of how states can fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the context of digitisation of everyday life. This will set a new international standard for children's rights in the digital world.

What are the next steps?

In March, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child launched an online public consultation to gather comments on the direction and content of the General Comment. Contributions to the consultation can be sent as Word documents by e-mail to crc@ohchr.org by 15 May 2019; they should not exceed six pages. In parallel, preparations are underway for a global children's participation process to take place in the summer months of 2019, as well as for expert consultations from autumn 2019 onwards. A first draft of the General Comment is expected to be submitted at the beginning of 2019 for public consultation in another online consultation.

Further possibilities for participation

The Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of the child in the digital environment, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in July 2018, provide good guidance on the impact of digitisation on children's lives and the exercise of their rights. The guidelines are now also available in German language, prepared by the childrens-rights.digital project. You can download the document here or order a printed version via e-mail info@kinderrechte.digital

The United Nations Internet Governance Forum, which will take place for the first time in Germany from 25 to 29 November, offers a further opportunity to put the issue of children's rights and digitisation at the centre of the debate. Proposals for the IGF programme can be submitted until 12 April.

Bring in your ideas and comments as well as research results and practical experience and help to develop a contemporary understanding of rights to protection and freedom for the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that meets the challenges of digitalisation of children's everyday lives.