Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIA) – Ex ante - Childrens Rights Reform

Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIA) – Ex ante

  • A Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) is a fundamental process that states must undergo as part of any form of legislative reform. Regardless of the chosen method – be it Constitutional Incorporation, Comprehensive Children’s Code (Single-law approach), or Multiple law or Sectoral approach – CRIA is an essential prerequisite.
    • It should be noted that a CRIA should be part of any legislative reform, revision or initiative that is impacting children’s rights. If not stated otherwise, it will be described here as part of children’s rights legislative reform through one or more of the methods identified earlier (see under Incorporation).
  • CRIA is a systematic process aimed at evaluating the potential impacts of legislative decisions on children and their rights, promoting policy coherence within legislative reform. It involves examining proposed legislation, policies, administrative structures and budgets through the lens of a CRBA (CRC GC 5, para. 45)
  • CRIA can be conducted in two distinct forms: ex-ante, before legislation is enacted, and ex-post (Child Rights Impact Evaluation, CRIE), after implementation.
  • This section provides guidance on conducting CRIA within the context of children's rights legislative reform following a CRBA, regardless of the chosen legislative reform method.
  • The CRC Committee states that CRIA can help governments meet their obligation to undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of children's rights (article 4 CRC).
  • Continuous implementation of CRIA ensures that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in all actions concerning children and that all the provisions of the CRC are reflected in legislation and policy development and delivery at all levels of government.
  • CRIA should be mandated by statute/domestic law, elevated as a strategic priority, and advocated as recommended best practice. States garner commendation from the CRC Committee for implementing legislative obligations that enforce systematic CRIA (CRC GC 5, para 47).
  • In the absence of a clear and secure mandate, CRIA are typically conducted at the discretion of interested government officials or individual practitioners. However, such discretionary assessments lack authoritative backing and consequently have a limited impact on shaping future decisions and actions (ENOC, 2020).

E.g.: Case study: CRIA mandated through a children’s rights strategy in Sweden

In 1999, the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) passed a Bill endorsing a national strategy for implementing the CRC, named the Child Rights Policy. The strategy included a requirement that:

  • The CRC must inform all decision-making affecting children.
  • Child impact assessments must be made in connection with all government decisions affecting children.
  • Government employees whose work impacts on children must be offered training to enhance their knowledge of the CRC.

Following a review, a Bill was introduced in 2009 leading to the endorsement of a new strategy to strengthen children’s rights in 2010, including a requirement that all legislation concerning children be formulated in accordance with the CRC (Barnombudsmannen, 2010; Lundy et al., 2012).

E.g.: Wales: CRIA used to fulfil children’s rights – Duty to have due regard to Convention on the Rights of the Child

In Wales section 1 of the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 mandates ministers to pay due regard to the UNCRC . To meet this obligation effectively, ministers use CRIAs, which are integral to embedding the principles of the CRC into decision-making processes.

Within the framework of integrated impact assessment, CRIAs serve as a crucial component. They enable officials to thoroughly evaluate the potential impact of proposed legislation, policies or budgetary decisions on children and their rights.

Through the CRIA process, officials meticulously analyse how proposed actions may affect children and ensure that their rights are adequately safeguarded. This proactive approach underscores Wales' commitment to upholding children's rights and promoting their well-being across all sectors of governance.

E.g.: Belgium: JoKER – Child and Youth Effect Report

Since 1997, draft legislation submitted by the Flemish government to the Flemish parliament that directly concerns (i.e. has impact on their lives or living environment; e.g. education, youth care, youth justice etc.) the best interests of people under the age of 25 should be accompanied by the Child and Youth Effect Report, which assesses the impact of that legislation (see also Desmet et al. 2012).

The Child and Youth Effect Report Manual is currently being reviewed. It is expected that when drafting legislation in the future, it will ask the government to explain:

  • The reasons for the legislative reform and the kind of expected impact on children and young people;
  • The target group, and where relevant the sub-target groups of the draft legislation, and to what extent children are part of these groups;
  • The effects of the proposed legislation on children and young people and on their rights;
  • How the expected effects will be monitored or handled after approval during implementation;
  • How children and young people are involved as participants in the reform process.

(see Flemish Department of Culture, Youth and Media):