NETHERLANDS: National Laws

Summary: General overview of the Netherland's national legal provisions on children's rights, including guidance on how to conduct further research.

 National laws on children's rights

Status of the CRC in national law
Under articles 93 and 94 of the Constitution of the Netherlands, ratified treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, become part of national law upon publication, and take precedence over statuory regulations. The CRC can be and has been cited in national courts, although only Convention provisions that have been found to set a clear standard not requiring further elaboration in national law can be directly enforced.

Constitution: Chapter I of the Constitution of the Netherlands includes a number of rights provisions that apply regardless of age, and the education provisions of article 23 directly address the rights of children.

Legislation: There is no comprehensive or consolidated Children's Act in Dutch law; rather, provisions of particular importance to children can be found throughout a number of Codes and Acts. Relevant legislation includes, but is by no means limited to:

  • The Criminal Code
  • The Civil Code
  • The Equal Treatment (Disability or Chronic Illness) Act 2003
  • The Youth Care Act 2005
  • The Childcare Act 2005
  • The Social Support Act 2007
  • The Work and Social Assistance Act 2004
  • The Adoption (Conflict of Laws) Act 2004
  • The Artificial Insemination (Donor Information) Act 2004
  • The Equal Treatment in Employment (Age Discrimination) Act 2004

Note: Legislation varies between the Continental Netherlands and the overseas territories within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Legal Research
The Dutch Parliament (Parlement) maintains an official website (, which offers a range of legal resources in Dutch, including pending and approved legislation.  The World Law Guide ( and the International Labour Organisation's NATLEX database ( provide access to a selection of national legislation in English and Dutch, and the International Constitutional Law Project provides access to the Constitution in English ( In addition, the GlobaLex project at New York University has published a guide to legal research in the Netherlands (, and the U.S. Law Library of Congress ( and the World Legal Information Institute ( both provide a selection of links to legal and governmental resources.

Case law
CRC Jurisprudence
The Convention on the Rights of the Child was considered in Minister for Immigration Affairs and Integration v. A and B, in which the Council of State was not willing to directly apply article 3 of the Convention (best interests of the child).

Case Law Research
The official website of the judiciary hosts a range of case law resources in Dutch, including judgements (, as well as limited resources in English.

Compliance with the CRC
In its Concluding Observations of 2009, the Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomed the State's efforts to harmonise its legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, particularly with regards to equal treatment, social assistance, adoption, unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers and youth care. The Committee remained concerned, however, about a number of areas of national law, including that the Civil Code did not follow a rights-based approach and that children in overseas territories did not have the same protections as those living in the continental Netherlands.

In depth analysis
A major feature of the Committee's 2009 Concluding Observations was the lesser legal protections afforded to children living in the overseas Dutch territories of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. Of particular concern was the continuing practice of corporal punishment in the two territories and the lack of a prohibition on such violence in the home in Aruba. The Committee urged the State to clearly prohibit corporal punishment of children in its legislation, and to ensure that the prohibition is adequately enforced. Similarly, the Committee expressed concern at the absence of legislation, policies and legal procedures to address the issue of asylum-seeking and refugee children in the Netherlands Antilles.

With regards to the Netherlands as a whole, the Committee expressed concern at a number of aspects of the juvenile justice system. Noting that children aged 16 and 17 could be tried under adult criminal law and that in Netherlands Antilles children could be sentenced to life imprisonment, the Committee urged the State to review its laws in this area and implement the juvenile justice standards contained within the Convention, including ensuring that detention of children is only used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period possible.

The Committee also reiterated the concern raised in its previous Observations with regards to the the legal practice of euthanasia of children aged 12 years and older. The Committee recommended that the State “take all necessary measures to strengthen control of the practice of euthanasia” including preventing non-reporting of the practice.

Current legal reform projects
Draft legislation on child refugees was under consideration in April 2012.

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.