Children, along with women, are traditionally the most vulnerable members of society. Child prostitution, child pornography, child labor, and the involvement of children in armed conflict are all sad reminders of the harsh environments many children live in. Access to education and health care are also basic needs that often go unmet.
The promotion and protection of children’s rights are a key priority of Germany’s Human Rights Policy. Germany has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as its three Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, on children in armed conflict and on an individual complaint procedure. It is constantly working on improving the national implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocols.
In 2011/12, when Germany was a member of the UN Security Council, it took over the chairmanship of the Working Group Children and Armed Conflict and consistently advocated better protection for children in conflicts. Children in armed conflict situations are exposed to risks of recruitment and use by armed troops, sexual abuse as well as exploitation and trafficking. They suffer from malnutrition and illness, they may lose their family and loved ones, and are often deprived of access to health care and education.
Currently, the German Federal Foreign Office supports programs for the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former child soldiers in Myanmar, Rwanda, Burundi and the Sudan, among others. Germany also provides financial support to UNICEF which is implementing projects to protect and reintegrate child soldiers in in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Germany also works with NGOs to prevent the misuse of indigenous children by armed groups in Colombia and supports the fight against Female Genital Mutilation in countries such as Burkina Faso and Djibouti.
Ambassador Heiko Thoms has been confirmed as one of four Vice-Presidents of UNICEF's Executive Board in 2015. In this position he will support UNICEF in implementing the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.