À propos d’une gouvernance axée sur les enfants
Governance for children is about making decisions that are good for children. Governments who ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child are obliged to give priority consideration to children and act in children’s best interests in all decisions. This duty includes giving children a first call in the allocation of budgets, formulating laws that make children’s rights legal, and other governance processes to promote the visibility of children and ensure children’s best interests are considered in all decision-making that affects them.
While the actions of governments may seem remote from the daily lives of children, children are more affected by the actions – or inactions – of government than any other group. Almost every area of government policy affects children to some degree, directly or indirectly. Political, legal, budgetary, policy, program and service actions affect children. Children are particularly vulnerable because of their dependence on adults, their lesser social and legal status, and the risk to their lifelong prospects if the conditions necessary for good childhood development are inadequate.
[Governments] shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, [governments] shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources… (article 4, Convention on the Rights of the Child)
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of children shall be a primary consideration. (article 3, Convention on the Rights of the Child)
There are specific processes for governing in the best interests of children, described by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its guidance for governments in General Comment No. 2 and General Comment No. 5. These governance processes ensure that children and their rights are explicitly considered in government decisions and actions. They provide the tools to help governments assess the situation of children in their countries and ensure that attention, resources and action are focused where they are most needed. They form the structural foundation to promote the fuller provision and protection of all Convention rights for all children. They are permanent mechanisms for the continuous and progressive advancement of children’s rights and well-being. All levels of government in a country should establish these governance processes, which complement each other and work together as a framework to support their efforts for children. However, in Canada and elsewhere, the governance framework for children is only partially completed.
The governance framework for children includes:
Ensure that all legislation is fully compatible with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, by incorporating all their principles and provisions into domestic law and constitutions and applying them in judicial processes. This involves review of existing and proposed legislation on a continuing basis, and identifying an agenda for law reform to address gaps and incompatibilities. Back to top
Make children visible in policy development processes throughout government by introducing child impact assessment - a systematic process to assess the potential impacts of decisions on children and their rights and promote policy coherence. Back to top
Establish an independent advocate – sometimes called an Ombudsperson or Commissioner - to promote visibility for children in government, advise government on policy development, monitor children’s rights and well-being, consult children, and investigate and help resolve gaps in legal protection and service provision. Back to top
Document and analyze government spending at all levels to make children “visible” in the budget; identify the proportion of public funds spent on children and determine how well a government is fulfilling its obligation to invest in children to the maximum extent of available resources; analyze the administration and impact of fiscal measures intended for specific groups and determine if any are excluded; and ensure that children are protected from adverse economic policies and budget decisions. Back to top
Develop a permanent structure in government to promote coordination, consistency, monitoring and evaluation of activities across all sectors and levels of government, ensuring policy and services for children are equitable and that jurisdictional gaps or disputes are resolved. Back to top
Set a national agenda for children that provides a unifying framework for coordinated action for children, sets targets and timelines and allocates resources and responsibilities toward the optimal provision and protection of all Convention rights, with regular progress reports. Back to top
Ensure that sufficient data on children across the comprehensive spectrum of children’s rights and extended over the whole period of childhood are systematically collected and used to improve the situation of all children. Back to top
Raise awareness and application of the Convention and a rights-based approach by providing training to policymakers and professionals working with or for children, and educate children about their rights as part of school curricula. Back to top
Involve civil society by including children and child-serving professionals and knowledge leaders in policymaking and other governance decisions. Back to top