Brazilian boy holding his thumb up. (Source: Ralf Krämer)

Helping children in need means:
realising their rights

What do children need to lead a good life? There is a clear answer to this question: They need an education, a violence-free upbringing, recreational activities and much, much more to protect them, foster their development and give them a voice in important decisions.

What's more, they have a right to all of that, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, which has been embraced by virtually every country in the world. But there is still a long way to go before  the rights of children are consistently realised and safeguarded. There are still a billion girls and boys who live in poverty. More than 171 million are exploited and over 200,000 are used to fight in wars and armed conflicts.

Kindernothilfe has made it its mission to help advance the rights of children and youth. After all, anyone who wants to help children in need must do exactly that – contribute to realising their rights. How do we do this? With very specific working practices, known as the child rights approach, which has a guiding influence on our projects abroad along with all of our educational and campaign work in Germany.

What is the child rights approach?

Working according to the child rights approach primarily means treating children as individuals with their own personalities and involving them in important decisions. It means relying on clear values – the rights of children – and pursuing a clear objective: realising the rights of children.

In addition to collaborating with our local partner organisations to remedy the violation of child rights, such as violent abuse, this involves influencing social and political structures to make them fairer over the long term, so people and institutions safeguard and realise the rights of children.

  • Realising child rights instead of violating them: Who is responsible?

    It is primarily the world's governments that are responsible for guaranteeing that children have access to education and health care, that they are not exploited and abused, that they have access to recreational activities and much more, so they can grow up freely and live self-determined lives. When they ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the nations of the world committed themselves to making this a reality by establishing the required institutions and providing them with ongoing funding.

    But parents, relatives and all members of civil society also bear a responsibility for making children's rights a reality by, for instance, not beating children and by sending them to school instead of having them toil in fields and factories.

    There are many reasons why children's rights are not adequately respected: Governments lack interest and sufficient funds, for example, or they invest in other areas such as the military. To make matters worse, government agencies along with parents and large segments of civil society often lack an awareness of the rights of the child, or they purposely disregard them and oppress children.

  • Realising child rights: How do we achieve this?

    In our bid to advance the rights of children, we work with our partners and projects to eliminate grave children's rights violations. But we also influence social and political structures to make them fairer and to empower people and institutions to make ongoing efforts to safeguard and realise the rights of the child.

    Every project begins with an analysis of the local environment, which reveals the most serious children's rights violations that affect girls and boys. Based on this, our partners work with the project participants to adopt appropriate measures that safeguard the rights of children. This happens at three levels.

    1. The individual level: Whenever there are grave children's rights violations, we intervene as quickly as possible to rectify the situation. Here are some examples: When children have no access to education, we make sure that this is provided for them. If children are victims of exploitation, we protect them from further exploitation. When children have no food and no access to medical care, we make sure that all of this is provided for them.

    2. The civil society level: Working together with local partners, we support children, their families and civil society, for example, by explaining about children's rights and their importance, along with how to advance, realise and safeguard them. At the same time, we help people organise themselves and network to make their voices more powerful and effective.

    3. The political level: Our partners on the ground influence politicians and agencies with lobbying and advocacy work, for example, by urging that more money be allocated to the educational sector.

    Realising children's rights through political lobbying and campaign work in Germany:
    Also in Germany we do everything in our power to advance the cause of children's rights in developing countries. Working in alliances at a national and international level, we pressure politicians to stand up for children's rights in developing countries and improve the legal conditions there.

    One example of this is the UN right of petition for children, which has finally become a reality after 10 years of political lobbying. Based on campaign work in Germany, such as the Action!Kidz campaign, we enlighten the German public about the living situations of children in developing countries and encourage people to support our work.


How we protect children

How we protect children

Kindernothilfe supports numerous protection programs and makes every effort to protect children involved in partner projects and activities in Germany from sexual abuse and maltreatment.

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Global Advocacy and Lobbying

Global Advocacy and Lobbying

To ensure that children's rights are realised worldwide and protected in the long run, we must also impact economic, social, and political conditions. Find out how we pursue our advocacy and lobbying work.

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Thailand: Advocates against child trafficking

Thailand: Advocates against child trafficking

Illegal border crossings from Laos to Thailand end in forced prostitution for many girls and young women. We have taken up the fight against these crimes and the weak justice system that aids and abets these criminals.

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