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Published 04.02.21

We celebrate: Children's rights take effect also in the digital world!

Children around the world have a reason to celebrate today, as the United Nations Children's Committee has adopted a General Comment on the rights of children in the digital environment. This means that all the rights granted to children by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child also apply in the digital space. Access to the internet, freedom of information and expression, but also children's privacy and the right to protection from violence and abuse must be more strongly respected on the internet in the future.

The general comment begins with an explanation of how the general principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child "non-discrimination", "primacy of the best interests of the child", "right to life" and "respect for the views of the child" are to be understood in the digital environment. A special section deals with parental rights and the evolving capacities of the child. After that, the individual articles of the Convention are placed in relation to the digital environment, divided into the topics "Civil rights and freedoms", "Violence against children", "Families and care", "Children with disabilities", "Health and well-being", "Education, leisure and culture" and "Special protection for children". Growing up in an everyday life shaped by digital services and devices poses challenges for children and adults, but at the same time also offers great opportunities for the realisation of children's rights. The last few months in particular have shown how, for example, the right to education can be exercised by children even under the conditions of the pandemic if the digital prerequisites are in place. The General Comment now lends just as much emphasis to this right as it does to the right to protection of minors in the media. If the amendment to the Youth Protection Act can be passed this year as planned, Germany will be one of the first countries in the world to implement the rights of children in the digital environment in accordance with the 25th General Comment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that shall be published officially by the United Nations in March 2021.

Since the beginning of 2019, the Children's Rights Committee has been working on the General Comment with the support of experts. More than 700 children from all over the world have participated and contributed their opinions. Above all, they want the internet to be accessible to children everywhere in the world so that they can use the opportunities and realise their rights in a safe digital environment. We will continue to work with commitment to make this goal come true.

A report on the children's perspective with the title “Our Rights in a Digital World” can be downloaded here.