Rights of Children
Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law, 2016
15 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016 Last revised: 2 Feb 2019
Date Written: June 9, 2016
The origins and import of the constitutional recognition of children’s rights can be traced through some of the most important legal documents of the last 800 years, including the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, and the United States Bill of Rights. Both human rights and the cultural and historical weight accorded to the recognition of rights through constitutional expression are derived from these documents and the values they embodied. But it was the intersection of the more recent rise of international recognition of children’s rights in the global community during the 20th century with that historical precedent of embedding legal and political rights within national constitutions that laid a fertile foundation for the widespread constitutionalization of children’s rights in numerous countries around the world since 1989. Factor in decolonialization and the collapse of the Soviet Bloc -- providing an expansion in recognition of rights-holding populations and opportunities to establish new governments and draft new constitutions -- and it becomes clear that children’s rights advocates were provided the perfect moment in history to domesticate what had become nearly universal recognition of children as rights holders -- at least in the international community. This article was prepared for the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law and provides a comparative overview of the constitutionalization of children's rights around the world over the past century.
Keywords: children's rights, constitutions, international human rights, comparative law
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