UN General comment No. 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence

The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child majority is attained earlier, and emphasizes that States should respect and ensure the rights embodied in the Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind.

While the Convention recognizes the rights of all persons under 18 years, the implementation of rights should take account of children’s development and their evolving capacities. Approaches adopted to ensure the realization of the rights of adolescents differ significantly from those adopted for younger children. 

Adolescence is a life stage characterized by growing opportunities, capacities, aspirations, energy and creativity, but also significant vulnerability.

The Committee observes that the potential of adolescents is widely compromised because States parties do not recognize or invest in the measures needed for them to enjoy their rights.

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