1.Child rights and governance:Mainlinkages
Governance was identified as a multifaceted conceptthat focuses on the interactions between thegovernment in its various forms and the people.
Itencompasses the role of private and social actors inthe definition andimplementation of societal goalsand public policies.
Governance rests on a series of principles includingtransparency, responsibility, accountability,participation and responsiveness to the needs of thepeople.
These elements were found to underpin thelinkages between governance and child rights.
Governance is relevant to children’s rights
Responsiveness and transparency:
Allpolicyissues definedthrough governance affect children.
Children are affected by any action of the State. Issuesas diverse as taxation, corruption, privatization, andbusiness practices are all core elements ofgovernance with major consequences for therealization of children’s rights. The roundtableconcluded that good governance for childrentherefore implies scrutinizing every action of theState, whether or not directly related to children,through a child rights lens.
Governance embraces the multiplicity ofduty-bearers and theimportance of systems fortherealization of children’s rights.
Governance highlights the importance of themultiplicity of actors in society and their respectiveresponsibility in reaching societal goals. It emphasizesthe significance of policy coherence and effectivecoordination mechanisms among various areas ofpublic action. Similarly, the realization of children’srights implies a holistic approach to policy-makingand relies on multiple duty-bearers. Participantsagreed that the governance framework coupled with achild rights approach can provide valuable insights foreffective systems and policy-making in all areas ofrelevance to children’s rights.
Governance is apromising avenue toaddress the implementation challenge of the CRC.
While significant progress has been made in theadoption of laws and policies for the implementation ofthe Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), theseare poorly enforced due to the lack of effectiveinstitutions, services and adequate resources,combined with an absence of political will and efficientleadership. Governance examines the underlyingdynamics of State effectiveness. It analyses how thedistribution of power within society affects policydecisions, administrative and social practices andultimately concrete outcomes. Governance thereforecalls for penetrating beyond the façade of institutionstraditionally considered within the child rights context.
Children’s rights are relevant to governance
Efficiency and effectiveness:
Children’s rights give a‘raisond’être’ to governance.
Governance constitutes the process by which thesense of direction of society is defined
and providesan enabling environment for the realization of humanrights, as a shared set of values and an acceptedbinding normative framework.
While often invisiblein policy-making, children are a fundamental group insociety. Discussions highlighted that the realization ofchildren’s rights and the centrality of children insociety should constitute a major objective forgovernance efforts. Children’s rights thereforerepresent a standard against which the quality ofgovernance can be assessed.
Children’s rights ensure that governance iscomprehensive.
Good governance, respectful of human rights, isnecessarily universal, non-discriminatory andequitable. Participants were concerned that it willremain incomplete if it bypasses children, whousually represent a third to a half of developingcountries’ population. Attention to children’s rightshelps governance efforts to focus on the mostmarginalized and excluded as well as to identify andaddress the root causes of discrimination forequitable and inclusive outcomes. It also sheds lighton children’s specific experiences and issues.
Inclusion and participation:
Children’s rights guidegovernance processes.
Human rights principles should be at the core ofdevelopment processes. Good governance isbynature participatory, in that itaims to link moreclosely the governing and the governed. Thedemand-side of governance implies empowering rights’holders to claim their rights and hold the governmentaccountable for its actions. By recognizing children assubjects of rights, theCRC paves the way for inclusivegovernance, in which children have a say. Achildrights approach to governance therefore offersguidance to recognize, nurture and build on children’scapacities as social agents whosevoices can informgovernance processes.
The General Measures of Implementation of theCRC: Laying the ground for a governance agendafor children’s rights
While the CRC does not explicitly refer to governance,it lays the ground for the integration of governance inArticle 4 on implementation measures. It washighlighted that General Comment No. 5 of theCommittee on the Rights of the Child on the GeneralMeasures of Implementation of the CRC providesfurther guidance on the implications of this provisionand essentially represents a governance agenda for theimplementation of the Convention by covering a widerange of state action.