The present study shows that participation rights can be strengthened through German development cooperation measures and how this can be done. It is based on the expectations of children and has identified a number of good practices for children’s participation in development cooperation. However, the study argues that much more needs to done to implement the right of children to participate, both as part of development measures and resulting from them. A key precondition for more participation of children in development is to address the existing power imbalance between adult professionals in development cooperation and children. The perception and role of adults vis-a-vis children need to change significantly, and children need to be empowered to participate. German development cooperation must support more child-friendly and responsive structures2 that provide participation opportunities – both in Germany and internationally.
The study is based on an interdisciplinary research design: Besides a legal examination of children’s participation rights as guaranteed in the CRC, it analyses material gathered in focus group discussions with children and youth in four countries as well as in interviews with development professionals in Germany and in partner countries. This approach is based upon the assumption that interdisciplinary approaches are necessary for applied human rights research, in order to understand the content of legal provisions and the perspectives of persons concerned – in this case mainly children and young people – but also development professionals. The study is complemented by an in-depth analysis of legal and social science literature as well as relevant policy documents.