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The right of the child to participation from the point of view of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

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Kirsten Sandberg on toiminut YK:n Lapsen oikeuksien komitean jäsenenä vuodesta 2011 saakka. Sandberg puhui keskiviikkona 11.10. Suomessa Lastensuojelun Keskusliiton kutsumana Lasten ja nuorten oikeus osallistua - seminaarissa

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The right of the child to participation from the point of view of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

  1. 1. MFA, Helsinki, 11 Oct 2017, Seminar on the Rights of Children and Young People to Participate The right of the child to participation from the point of view of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Prof. Kirsten Sandberg, member of the UN Committee
  2. 2. Overview • What is participation under art. 12? • In what kind of decisions etc? • Who has the right to participate? • How can children express their views? • What should States do to make children heard? • The importance of information • The weight of children’s views • Participation in the work of the Committee 3
  3. 3. Sources • General comment No. 12 on the Right of the Child to be Heard • Other general comments • Days of general discussion • Concluding observations to States • The Committee’s working methods 4
  4. 4. Article 12 1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. • «shall» makes it a strong obligation 5
  5. 5. Two types of participation • Participation at two levels: – In general decisions, children as a group or groups of children – In individual decisions • I will speak about the first one, children’s participation in advocacy and opinion-making • Relationship to right to freedom of expression 6
  6. 6. What is participation? • "ongoing processes, which include information-sharing and dialogue between children and adults based on mutual respect, and in which children can learn how their views and those of adults are taken into account and shape the outcome of such processes“ (GC 12 para. 3) 7
  7. 7. (cont.) • “The concept of participation emphasizes that including children should not only be a momentary act, but the starting point for an intense exchange between children and adults on the development of policies, programmes and measures in all relevant contexts of children’s lives.” (GC 12 para. 13) 8
  8. 8. In what decisions etc? «all matters affecting the child» • CRC has no list, not limited to certain questions • GC 12: Wide interpretation preferable in order to include children in social processes • No general political mandate, see art. 13 • But art. 12 covers not only matters that have «child» in the name! • Curricula at school, school bullying, health, transportation, social protection, local planning, environmental issues, etc • Children in general, or groups of children • In kindergarten, schools, community and society 9
  9. 9. Environmental issues Day of general discussion 2016: • States should ensure that all children, including younger children, are given opportunities to participate in discussions on the impacts of environmental issues and should build children’s meaningful participation into environmental policy- making at all levels. 10
  10. 10. Digital media Day of general discussion 2014: • States should ensure that children are consulted in order to take into account their views and experiences in developing laws, policies, programmes, and in the setting up of services, and other measures relating to digital media and ICTs • Children should also be actively engaged in the design and implementation of initiatives aimed at fostering safe use of digital media and ICTs, including online safety. 11
  11. 11. Public budgeting GC 19 (2015) on public budgeting for the realization of children’s rights: • States parties should regularly hear children’s views on budget decisions that affect them, through mechanisms for the meaningful participation of children at the national and subnational levels. 12
  12. 12. Concluding observations Recommendation to the UK 2016: • Establish structures for the active and meaningful participation of children and give due weight to their views in designing laws, policies, programmes and services at the local and national levels, including in relation to discrimination, violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, harmful practices, alternative care, sexual and reproductive education, leisure and play. 13
  13. 13. Who has the right? Any child «capable of forming his or her own views» • Small children, see GC 7 (2005) on child rights in early childhood and GC 12: A child is able to express views from the earliest stage • Requires recognition of non-verbal forms of communication (play, body language, drawing) • Children with disabilities or a minority language are also able to form views, even if they cannot express their views in the ordinary way! Adaptation needed 14
  14. 14. Who has the right, cont. • GC 20 (2017) on adolescence: The Committee emphasizes the importance of participation as a means of political and civil engagement through which adolescents can negotiate and advocate for the realization of their rights, and hold States accountable 15
  15. 15. How can children express their views? • In whatever way they like – oral, writing, photos, film, music, poetry, drawing, theatre etc. • Through what channels? Any. Social media, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, letters, email, meetings, conferences • No need to do it in the adult way, adults must accept various forms of expressing views 16
  16. 16. What should States do to make children’s views heard? • Actively seek children’s views in all decision-making that affect them! • Create mechanisms for this purpose – Schools: Class councils, student councils, student representation at school boards etc – Local children’s /youth councils /parliaments – National children’s /youth parliament • Establish online spaces (DGD on digital media) • Support and encourage children’s own organisations (GC 20) 17
  17. 17. What should States do, cont, • Make sure that marginalised and disadvantaged children are not excluded from consultation processes on legislation and policies • Combat negative attitudes to children. – UK 2016: take urgent measures to address the “intolerance of childhood” and general negative public attitude towards children, especially adolescents, within society, including in the media 18
  18. 18. Directly or through a representative body? • Children do not need to go through a representative body to express their views, they can do it in ad hoc groups or individually • “Consulting hours of politicians and officials, open house and visits in schools and kindergartens create additional opportunities for communication”, GC 12 • Probably the weight will (should) be greater if expressed by a representative body – if it is truly representative 19
  19. 19. Concluding observations • UK 2016: Expedite the establishment of youth parliaments in all devolved administrations … as permanent forums for children’s effective engagement with national legislative processes on issues that affect them • New Zealand 2016: Develop toolkits for public consultation on national policy development, including consulting with children on issues that affect them, standardize … at a high level of inclusiveness and participation 20
  20. 20. The importance of information • Children cannot form views without being properly informed on the matter and alternatives for action • DGD on children’s rights and the environment 2016, regarding environmental education: – Education was seen as children’s main source of gaining environmental information. It was further stressed that education plays a significant role in empowering children to become actors of change and defenders of the environment 21
  21. 21. Due weight to children’s views • Hearing children must not be tokenistic! • Adults must listen to what children say and seriously consider it • According to age and maturity • Best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration, and art. 3 cannot be correctly applied if the components of article 12 are not respected 22
  22. 22. Basic requirements for children’s right to be heard All processes of participation must be: • Transparent and informative • Voluntary • Respectful • Relevant • Child-friendly • Inclusive • Supported by training of adults and children • Safe and sensitive to risk • Accountable – feedback to children 23
  23. 23. Children’s participation in the work of the Committee • In the review process, see «working methods …» – Children’s reports, videos, photo books – Children’s meeting during pre-session – Participation through video-conferencing – Attend dialogue with the State or watch webcast • In the development of general comments – Consultations in different parts of the world – Online consultations • In days of general discussion 24
  24. 24. What did I say? • All children have a right to express their views • In all matters that affect them • States should create structures for children to be heard at school, local and national level • Children need access to information in a form they understand • Adults need training • Authorities must take children’s views into consideration, avoid tokenism! 25