Respect children’s right to participate in decisions affecting them – UN child rights committee
GENEVA (19 November 2014) – The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989 and to date has been ratified by 194 countries, making it the most widely ratified international human rights treaty. To mark the Convention’s 25th anniversary, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is highlighting the right of children to participate meaningfully in decisions affecting their lives and communities.
The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 25 years ago marked the first time that children were explicitly recognised as having specific rights. Among these is the right of children to participate, not just to be heard, in matters that affect them.
The Committee has repeatedly stressed that children need to be part of the solutions to the many problems the world faces and that is as true today as it was on 20 November 1989.
Children can be active agents of change in their families, in their schools, in their communities and in their countries. They may have, at times, views different to adults, shaped as they are by their experiences as children. This is as it should be. Children are valuable members of our societies - as children.
Let us stop talking about‘allowing’ young people to participate – it is, firstly, a right of the child. Secondly, when children take part in discussions on matters affecting their lives, problems they face are more likely to be addressed meaningfully if the children’s views are taken into account.
Twenty-five years on from the adoption of the Convention, we can point to the improvement in children’s lives worldwide. But clearly too many children still suffer violations of their rights and especially violence, exploitation and neglect, discrimination, denial of health services or a decent education.
Creating the future we want, the future that will shape the lives of children and their children, depends on how we act now, and for that children’s participation is as important as that of adults.
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More information about the Committee on the Rights of the Child:
As well as the Convention, there are three other treaties that cover specific issues relating to children’s rights. These are known as Optional Protocols. One is on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPSCCRC.aspx This has been ratified by 169 states to date.
Another is on the involvement of children in armed conflict – so far ratified by 158 states.
The most recent is the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure.
This gives children who have exhausted all legal avenues in their own countries the possibility of applying to the Committee. To date, 14 countries have ratified this.
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