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CRC/C/GC/12 page 15

Convention, such as article 2 (the right to non-discrimination), article 6 (the right to life, survival and development) and, in particular, is interdependent with article 3 (primary consideration of the best interests of the child). The article is also closely linked with the articles related to civil rights and freedoms, particularly article 13 (the right to freedom of expression) and article 17 (the right to information). Furthermore, article 12 is connected to all other articles of the Convention, which cannot be fully implemented if the child is not respected as a subject with her or his own views on the rights enshrined in the respective articles and their implementation.


The connection of article 12 to article 5 (evolving capacities of the child and

appropriate direction and guidance from parents, see para. 84 of the present general comment) is of special relevance, since it is crucial that the guidance given by parents

takes account of the evolving capacities of the child.

  • 1.

    Articles 12 and 3

  • 70.

    The purpose of article 3 is to ensure that in all actions undertaken concerning

children, by a public or private welfare institution, courts, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child are a primary consideration. It means that every action taken on behalf of the child has to respect the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child is similar to a procedural right that obliges States parties to introduce steps into the action process to ensure that the best interests of the child are taken into consideration. The Convention obliges States parties to assure that those responsible for these actions hear the child as stipulated in article 12. This step is mandatory.


The best interests of the child, established in consultation with the child, is not

the only factor to be considered in the actions of institutions, authorities and administration. It is, however, of crucial importance, as are the views of the child.


Article 3 is devoted to individual cases, but, explicitly, also requires that the

best interests of children as a group are considered in all actions concerning children. States parties are consequently under an obligation to consider not only the individual situation of each child when identifying their best interests, but also the interests of children as a group. Moreover, States parties must examine the actions of private and

public institutions, authorities, as well as legislative bodies. The extension of the

obligation to “legislative bodies” clearly indicates that every law, regulation or rule that

affects children must be guided by the “best interests” criterion.


There is no doubt that the best interests of children as a defined group have to

be established in the same way as when weighing individual interests. If the best interests of large numbers of children are at stake, heads of institutions, authorities, or governmental bodies should also provide opportunities to hear the concerned children from such undefined groups and to give their views due weight when they plan actions,

including legislative decisions, which directly or indirectly affect children.


There is no tension between articles 3 and 12, only a complementary role of the

two general principles: one establishes the objective of achieving the best interests of the child and the other provides the methodology for reaching the goal of hearing either the child or the children. In fact, there can be no correct application of article 3 if the components of article 12 are not respected. Likewise, article 3 reinforces the

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