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The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is presented and understood as the primary reference point regarding questions of children's rights. However, the UNCRC is not a neutral instrument deployed to meet the rights of children: it embodies a specific perception of the child, childhood and citizenship. The interpretation of the UNCRC from the point of view of children's legal status emphasises the autonomy of children; the focus is on the rights that children possess. Conversely, the social-political interpretation of the UNCRC addresses the question of how the rights of children can be realised. It is suggested that distinguishing between these interpretations is essential with regard to questions of pedagogy and education.