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Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the CRC: Is There a Legal Obligation to Cooperate Internationally for Development?

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Several provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child contain references to international cooperation, sometimes in combination with a reference to the needs of developing countries. This article explores whether these references, in light of the interpretation given by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and of other human rights treaties which contain similar wording (in particular the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Disability Convention), amount to a legal obligation to cooperate internationally for development in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. While it is not possible to establish the existence of a legal obligation to provide development assistance in general – which would amount to an extraterritorial obligation to fulfil – legal obligations to respect and protect economic, social and cultural rights of children in third countries do apply. Moreover, the CRC Committee has clarified some specific obligations of fulfilment for donor countries, such as, amongst others, the allocation of 0,7 per cent of GDP to development assistance, and the adoption of a rights-based approach to development cooperation, in which children's rights are mainstreamed.

Affiliations: 1: UNICEF Chair on Children's Rights, University of Antwerp


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