Children’s citizenship

Publications • Research • Activities Knowing Children strategic priorities for enhancing information about children are based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). In the case of children’s citizenship, the

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  • Research
  • Activities

Knowing Children strategic priorities for enhancing information about children are based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). In the case of children’s citizenship, the key rights are expressed in Articles 7 and 8, together with Articles 12 and 13. Articles 15 and 20-22 are also relevant.

The key words are identity and freedom of expression


United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 7

  1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
  2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.

Article 8 

  1. States Parties shall undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.
  2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

Freedom of expression

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 12 

  1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
  2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Article 13 

Knowing Children is focusing on two main aspects of children’s citizenship:

  • Citizenship activities through what is often called ‘children’s participation’;
  • Access to citizenship entitlements, through identity and nationality documentation.


Karen language translation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
See What’s New for details of the launch and distribution.
Beyond article 12: Essential readings in children’s participation


In the modern nation state system all citizens need to be registered either as citizens of a state or as stateless persons with the United Nations. Without this official existence, it is not possible for them to vote, work, own property, cross national borders or access essential services. In most countries it is the most marginalised populations that lack the proof that they exist – ethnic and migrant groups are particularly vulnerable as they may not even understand the importance of being able to prove who they are.

Children are particularly vulnerable if unregistered:

  • Their rights to survival and health may be compromised because they cannot access health services;
  • They are unable to register in schools;
  • They are especially at risk of being trafficked because their existence cannot be proved and their absence documented;
  • Later in life they will have no citizenship, and will be likely to remain in casual employment, unregistered housing and lack any opportunity to improve their lives.

UNICEF and Plan International have joined with non governmental organizations and governments to develop campaigns and materials for universal birth registration, but considerable additional work remains.
Between February and April 2007, Knowing Children is carrying out preliminary research on children requiring retrospective birth registration in Thailand, who may be orphans and/or stateless, with a view to developing a proposal for a pilot project to meet their needs. In the first instance the project will focus on Karen children currently living in Thailand, mapping the projects working with them and attempting to assess the need. For further information contact Arunee Puengpornsawan [email protected]

Partners: VIVA International Network for Children at Risk
Funding: Kindernothilfe e.v


On 16 September 2006, Knowing Children advisors on Children’s Participation (Helen Veitch) and Programme Development (Judith Ennew), attended the Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion on Article 12, in Geneva and presented each member of the Committee with a copy of the publication Beyond article 12.

In partnership with Thai adoption organizations,Catholic Charities of Baltimore and Solidarity House,Knowing Children is organizing a mini-conference on international adoption in Bangkok, 26-27 March, 2007 for more details contact Arunee Puengpornsawan
[email protected]

See What’s new? For information about the official launch of Knowing Children through the lanch of the Karen translation of the CRC in Mae Hlar camp on November 2006.

Knowing Children staff present copies of the CRC in Karen to children in the orphanage

On 25th November 2006, staff of Knowing Children traveled from Bangkok to the Mae Hlar refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border to present the first copies of a Karen language translation of the CRC to children in a small orphanage.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides all children, everywhere with the same rights:

  • to provision of life, freedom, homes, identity, health and schooling;
  • to protection from being hurt in any way;
  • to give their views on decisions made for their welfare.