Other community actors - Childrens Rights Reform

Other community actors


Role of children in children’s rights legislative reform

Children are important stakeholders in children’s rights legislative reform.

In line with article 12 CRC, children have a right to participate in decision-making about all matters that affect them, including in relation to measures taken to implement the CRC. Specifically, the views expressed by children should be considered in decision-making, policymaking and the preparation of laws and/or measures as well as their evaluation. (CRC GC 5, para. 12).

Children should be enabled to participate in the child rights impact assessment of legislative reform that affects them, both directly and indirectly. See further section HOW > Ensuring a participatory and inclusive process – Consultations.

Children should also have the opportunity to participate in monitoring processes of the new or revised legislation. For example, they should be supported to present their views in the reporting process to the CRC Committee (CRC GC 12, para. 131).

For children to be able to participate in the legislative process, States Parties should:

  • Presume that children have the capacity to form their views and recognise that they have the right to express them (CRC GC 12, para. 20). All children should be given the opportunity to be heard, including children who may experience difficulties in articulating and making their views heard. States are encouraged to consult with children from the earliest stage in ways appropriate to their capacities, best interests and right to protection from harmful experiences (CRC GC 7, para. 14). See section WHAT for more information.
  • Provide children with the information needed to form and express their opinions. All information should be presented in child-friendly and accessible manner.
  • Guarantee enabling conditions and necessary accommodations for children’s views to be expressed and collected. In particular, additional measures should be designed to reach out to marginalised groups of children.
    • To ensure high-quality, rights-based participation of children in public decision-making, States Parties can follow the Lundy model of child participation, which highlights the importance of four key elements of child participation: space, voice, audience and influence.

For a more extensive description of their role:

Ensure that the process is transparent and informative, voluntary, respectful, relevant, child-friendly, inclusive, supported by training, safe and sensitive to risk, and accountable (CRC GC 12, para. 134).

Make use of existing mechanisms or establish child participation mechanisms, such as Children’s Parliaments, in-school clubs, or National Children’s Constitutional / Legislative Review Commissions. This will facilitate children’s input in legislative processes and related implementation and monitoring activities.

  • E.g.: The Lundy model of child participation is considered good practice when establishing models for children’s involvement in decision-making. In Ireland, it forms the framework for the Government of Ireland’s Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Inclusion and Youth’s National Framework for Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision Making. The framework aims to embed a culture of ‘participation with a purpose’ into the decision-making processes of government and third sector bodies in the country. The framework contains a planning checklist, evaluation checklist, everyday spaces checklist and children and young people’s feedback forms, which together allow officials and those who work with children to include them practically in the development of legislation, policy and practice.
  • E.g.: In Zambia, children were highly engaged in the process leading to the adoption of the Children’s Code 2022, from the beginning. Through the Zambia Law Development Commission’s research process, the Government included children from various parts of the country during the research to develop an issue paper reviewing child law. In 2015, the Ministry of Justice made considerable efforts to consult children on various issues that affected them and to include their voices in the State Party Report to the CRC Committee. Children’s recommendations were taken into consideration during the child law review process. Further, children engaged the Parliamentary Caucus on Children through the child rights clubs at their schools to voice their concerns. Additional spaces were used within the National Child Rights Forum, a consortium of local NGOs advocating for children’s rights (Information shared by UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa).
For more information: Save the Children (2020)