International law allocates a specific set of fundamental rights to children, taking into consideration their vulnerabilities, specificities and appropriate needs for development. While the rights of children are enshrined in general instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), they are also protected by specific conventions such as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPCRC).
According to international standards set out in these instruments, all individuals below the age of 18 are considered children and entitled to, amongst others, the right to family life, the right to health care and education, the right to be protected from violence and exploitation. Articles 37 and 40 of the CRC furthermore recognise specific rights for children in detention and/or subjected to trial, and require States to establish a specific system of justice for minors.
Despite the fact that the CRC is the most widely ratified human rights Convention, children’s rights remains disrespected in practice. Alkarama documents multiple instances of children in the Arab region who were subjected to summary executions during armed conflict, enforced disappearance, mistreatment and torture in detention and unfair trials before jurisdictions that do not respect the standards of juvenile justice. As the Human Rights Council has not yet created a special procedure on the rights of children, Alkarama submits cases of violations to other mechanisms such as Committee on the Rights of the Child or to the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.