Access to justice for children: annual day on the rights of the child of the UN Human Rights Council 2014
Children’s rights have the focus of the UN Human Rights Council one day per year - the annual day on the rights of the child, which in 2014 took place Thursday 13 March during the Council’s 25th session. The theme was access to justice for children.
What is access to justice for children?
Access to justice is a human right; it also makes other human rights - the benchmark of a life lived with dignity, equality and respect - a reality.
Access to justice for children means that children, or their appropriate advocates where applicable, must be able to use and trust the legal system to protect their human rights. It covers every instance in which a child comes into contact with the law, whether the child seeks out the legal system or the legal system seeks out the child.
The importance of access to justice applies equally to children and adults. Yet children’s rights in this area, namely their ability to enforce their rights and challenge violations, are largely neglected or ignored. This is because children are often not viewed as human beings with human rights, but rather as objects of pity and charity, mere appendages of their parents or thugs menacing communities.
Social services and juvenile justice systems are extremely important. Yet access to justice for children is often reduced to ideas around welfare and criminality, thereby limiting the scope of children’s right to access justice for human rights violations.
What a maze: Access to justice for children
Justice systems are a maze to just about everyone, with various blocks preventing access. Being able to find a solution to the maze empowers people to enjoy their human rights.
During the week of the annual day (10-14 March), CRIN will publish four editorials outlining some of the steps needed to get over the barriers children often encounter in the access to justice maze. Those attending the Council session can also look out for our daily maze postcards outlining the issues.
- First editorial - Open the maze
- Second editorial - Get shown through the maze
- Third editorial - Choose a path
- Fourth editorial - Find a solution
We will also be reported live from Geneva during the week of the annual day, through our UN CRINmails:
- Summary of Day 1 (Monday, 10 March)
- Summary of Day 2 (Tuesday, 11 March)
- Summary of Day 3 (Wednesday, 12 March)
- Summary of Day 4 (including annual day on the rights of the child) (Thursday, 13 March)
More at HRC25
See our session page for HRC25 for details of what happened during the session, including panel discussions and side events, both around the annual day on the rights of the child and other human rights themes.
Below are some selected news highlights to come from the session.
- Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteurs on Cultural Rights and on Sale of Children (OHCHR, 12 March)
- Human Rights Council opens twenty-fifth session and starts High-Level Segment (OHCHR, 3 March)
- Human Rights Council holds high-level panel on promoting and protecting the human rights of migrants (OHCHR, 4 March)
- Human Rights Council holds high-level dialogue on the promotion of preventive approaches within the United Nations System (OHCHR, 4 March)
- Sri Lanka under fire at 25th Session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (dbsjeyaraj.com, 4 March)
- Human Rights Council holds high-level panel discussion on the question of the death penalty (OHCHR, 5 March)
- UN Commission of Inquiry: Attacks, sieges of civilian areas are leading to mass casualties and starvation in Syria (OHCHR, 5 March)
- Syria: UN Security Council 'bears responsibility' for war crimes in Syria (Aljazeera, 6 March)
- South Korea’s Foreign Minister calls for resolution to “comfort women” issue (The Hankyoreh, 6 March)
- Human Rights Council discusses the prevention of genocide (OHCHR, 7 March)
- Human Rights Council concludes interactive dialogue the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her annual report (OHCHR, 7 March)
- Council holds clustered interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on Human Rights Defenders (OHCHR, 10 March)
- States must ensure a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders (ISHR, 10 March)
- UN expert urges States to take into account human rights obligations in their environmental policies (OHCHR, 11 March)
- “In the face of threats, torture and killings, defending rights remains a dangerous activity” – UN rights expert (OHCHR, 11 March)
- Council holds Panel discussion on importance of promotion and protection of civil society space (OHCHR, 11 March)
- Council reviews reports on the use of drones in the fight against terrorism, and on freedom of religion (OHCHR, 12 March)
- UN human rights experts urge Iran to halt the ongoing surge in executions (OHCHR, 12 March)
- “No more hypocrisy, stop condemning torture committed by others while accepting its products” - UN expert (OHCHR, 12 March)
- Council hears from Special Representatives on violence against children and on children in armed conflict (OHCHR, 12 March)
- Sexual exploitation of children: Global response urged to increasingly global crime (OHCHR, 13 March)
Human Rights Council discusses right of the child to access to justice (OHCHR, 13 March)
- Read CRIN's guide to the UN for more on the Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms.
- See the law section of our website for more, particularly for a collaborative project mapping how access to justice for children works in every country in the world.
- The justice theme page of our website also has some further information.
- Visit the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) for more on human rights at the UN.