The Child’s Right to be Heard Being Discussed at the UN

Summary: The General Day of Discussion of the Committee on the Rights of the Child taking place in Geneva on 15 September is looking at the child's right to be heard.

[GENEVA, 15 September 2006] - Over 30 children and young people from around the world gathered at the United Nations on 15th September to make their voices heard at a meeting of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. It is the first time such a large number of under-18s are able to participate in such a meeting.

Every year the Committee, the body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), organises a discussion day on a theme related to children’s rights. The aim of the discussion is to give states advice on how to implement the rights being discussed.
 
This year’s discussion is on the child’s right to be heard which is expressed in Article 12 of the CRC. As well as children, the event is bringing together members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, NGOs, UN agencies, governments and other interested experts to identify priority issues, share good practice and issue recommendations.
 
The discussion day was opened by Jaap Doek, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, who said that “children and young people are the rights owners of the CRC, it is their treaty. All articles are important, but article 12 is of special importance because it should be an integral part of all other articles.”

Moushira Khatab, Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that Article 12 of the CRC recognises the potential of children "to enrich decision-making processes, to share perspectives and to participate as citizens and actors of change. This article indicates that children need to be involved in the process of realising their rights. As a fundamental right of the child, it requires a clear commitment and effective actions to become a living reality and therefore is much more than a simple strategy." [full speech]

Victor Karunan from UNICEF said “this is a time when many Governments, international agencies, donors and the NGO community have come to recognise that children and young people are indeed partners in development and change. This is also a time when – as we approach in 2007 the 5-year Review of the UN Special Session on Children and progress in the implementation of the commitments made by State Parties to “A World Fit for Children”, agencies like UNICEF have translated this core guiding principle of the CRC into specific targets to be achieved in our global business plan for the next four years." [full speech]

One of the young participants from Bangladesh said that in coming to Geneva she had met children from around the world to discuss the issues they face and realised that children everywhere face similar problems. She therefore asked the Committee to consider the following requests from the group of young people, including:

  • the need to have child friendly environments so that we are not afraid of adults;
  • adults should treat us as children and also respect us as children and value our opinions equally;
  • we need a complete separate child friendly juvenile system and courts;
  • there should be a child and advisory committe working in parallel to ensure the Committee is made aware of children's issues and monitor the work of the Committee at regular intervals. 

Following the plenary, participants divided into two working groups. The first one looking at the child’s right to be heard in judicial and administrative procedures. Such proceedings could relate to civil and criminal law, family and alternative care, protection, health, immigration status and schooling. 

See report from working group 1

The second working group was to discuss children as active participants in society, including the child’s right to express views in various settings such as the family, school, associations and politics, and become active participants in decision making processes in these settings.

See report from working group 2

The Committee will issue its recommendations to governments on the child's right to be heard shortly. Please keep checking the CRIN website. The Committee will also endeavour to draft a General Comment on the same theme next year.

Further information

Find out what happened during the children and young people's preparatory forum:

Information about the Day of General Discussion:

Information on the child's right to be heard:

 

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