In this article a critical reflection upon age limits applied in the law is provided, in light of the tension that exists in international children’s rights law between the protection of children and the recognition of their evolving autonomy. The main research question that will be addressed is to what extent the use of (certain) age limits is justified under international children’s rights law. The complexity of applying open norms and theoretically underdeveloped concepts as laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, related to the development and evolving capacities of children as rights holders, will be demonstrated. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child struggles to provide comprehensive guidance to states regarding the manner in which the dynamic legal position of children should be applied in practice. The inconsistent application of age limits that govern the involvement of children in judicial procedures provides states leeway in granting children autonomy, potentially leading to the establishment of age limits based on inappropriate – practically, politically or ideologically motivated – grounds.

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Keywords age limits, dynamic legal position, children’s rights, maturity, evolving capacities
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Series Erasmus Law Review
Journal Erasmus Law Review
Rap, S., Schmidt, E., & Liefaard, T. (2020). Safeguarding the Dynamic Legal Position of Children: A Matter of Age Limits?. Erasmus Law Review, 13(1), 4–12. doi:10.5553/ELR.000158