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Law Reform

Law reform is a fundamental, ongoing responsibility of governments who ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure that all legislation is fully compatible with the Convention and its Optional Protocols. This involves:

  • Incorporating all the principles and provisions of children’s human rights into domestic law to make them legal and enforceable
  • Applying children’s rights in judicial processes
  • Reviewing existing and proposed legislation on a continuing basis, applying child rights impact assessment and identifying a law reform agenda to address gaps and incompatibilities
  • Establishing effective, child-friendly remedies to address violations of children’s rights (which may include children’s advocates, legal assistance, tribunals, special courts or judicial processes, etc.)
  • Ratifying new human rights treaties affecting children.

Of all governance measures for children, law reform has been paid the greatest attention by most governments. About two-thirds of the world’s nations have incorporated the Convention on the Rights of the Child at least in part into law, and one-third have amended their constitutions to expressly include children’s rights. Yet it remains a challenge to ensure all Convention rights are legally protected, due to lack of full awareness among parliamentarians and policymakers and complex political and legal structures. In Canada and elsewhere, not all children’s human rights are protected and enforceable in law.

UNICEF’s research - documents legislative progress, offers guidance for legislative development and assesses the compatibility of proposed legislation with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.