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Giving Children a Voice Can Lead to Better Outcomes for All

Michaela Bruckmayer – RAND |

Developing the New European Strategy on the Rights of the Child

The European Union recently held the 13th annual Forum on the Rights of the Child, during which experts from a range of sectors who work on issues relating to children came together to discuss how best to guarantee the realisation of children’s rights.

Participants in the forum included policymakers, judicial and child protection practitioners, ombudspersons for children, international and non-governmental organisations, and staff from EU institutions and agencies. Perhaps most importantly, the event was also attended by children and young people themselves. They were asked to express their views on the topics discussed, as well as to reflect on what adults said and share their feedback.

The participation of children and young people in this event is in line with growing recognition of the importance of giving children the opportunity to participate in EU political and democratic life. The right of children to participate is enshrined in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). Under this treaty, one of the most widely ratified human rights conventions, state parties oblige themselves to ensure that children are given the right to express their own views “freely in all matters affecting the child [and that] the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”

However, more could be done to make sure that this principle is translated into practice, and that children can express their views and that their voices are heard, including in decisionmaking.

Michaela Bruckmayer is an analyst at RAND Europe in the area of home affairs and social policy and conducts research for the European Platform for Investing in Children and the Child Participation study.