‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together’ (saying)
This report on children’s rights in Germany is a co-operation between 101 organisations. The National Coalition Deutschland was founded in 1992, and composed the Supplementary Report to the German federal government’s First, Second, Third/Fourth and now Fifth/Sixth Periodic Reports. Based on the recommendations established by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2014, 22 member organisations took charge of co-ordinating a localised writing process, and worked with other member organisations to compose parts of this report – on education, health, poverty and many other issues. Their common aim was to assess, at a civil-society level, how the federal government has implemented the recommendations from the last report cycle.
New topics were added by member organisations, many directly referencing the federal government’s State Report. The collaboration between the various member organisations has strengthened the ties between them, the network has grown, and civil society is co-operating even better. Joint discussions on the drafts saw us learn a lot from each other, and increased the wealth of knowledge within the member organisations of the National Coalition Deutschland.
But the more we know, the more questions are raised. If a topic is not mentioned or not addressed from a civil-society perspective in this Supplementary Report, this does not mean no action is required in that area. These gaps in content are often due to the fact that the National Coalition Deutschland does not have a broad enough skill set in that field, which is then flagged as an area requiring further development.
One of the greatest challenges associated with the report was that of recording developments at a municipal, state and national level. The federal system means that responsibility for legislation and execution does not always occur at the same level; for example, the state has authority over education-related decisions, while the State Report and Supplementary Report are primarily federal-level activities.
Meanings of individual words and age-group structures also posed a challenge for the authors. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, all people aged under 18 are children, though 15-year-olds would tend to classify themselves more as adolescents, and the ‘young adults’ age group established by law in Germany applies up to the age of 27, thereby exceeding the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the term ‘child’. A heightened awareness of diversity and diversity-sensitive language led to numerous discussions amongst many of the authors. We hope we have put together a good, diverse report that helps ensure children’s rights are respected in Germany.
Berlin, 20 June 2019