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Participation

Talking about children, without children does not make sense, as children are citizens of

today and not tomorrow” 

-Mr. Marek Michalak – Ombudsman for Children of the Republic of Poland, Chair of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC)

 

Child Participation is one of the four basic principles of the  Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The establishment of participatory rights proves that children are not only to be defended but they are also social actors, capable of having their own critical view.

Article 12 of the CRC states that children (all human beings below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier) have the right to participate in decision-making processes that may be relevant in their lives and influence decisions taken in their regard, within the family, the school and the community. 
As children grow, they acquire a certain level of maturity so all the recognised intellectual freedoms of mankind such as expression (which includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas); association; information; freedom of thought, conscience and religion, also apply to children.

Participation must not be confused with manipulation. Participation is not genuine if children do not have the opportunity to understand the consequences and the impact of their own views and opinions so it is essential for every child to be provided with direction during the exercise of his or her rights in a manner consistent with his or her evolving capacities.
If capable,a child must be given the opportunity to participate and make his or her views known.
The right to participation is extremely important because, on one hand, it is relevant to the exercise of all other rights, within the family, the school and the community. For example, in the case of the right to health, children are entitled to be informed and have access to information regarding health and nutrition.
On the other hand, when children’s opinions are taken into consideration by adults, children feel more involved so, through participation, they become more confident, responsible and empowered.

DCI believes that children’s participation is of fundamental importance. In November 2009, to celebrate its 30th Anniversary, DCI organized a symposium in Geneva entitled: “ Child Participation in Juvenile Justice ”, putting particular emphasis on the rights of the child to be heard in all the different phases of a judicial proceeding.

Moreover, DCI-Palestine annually holds a national conference on child participation, as the children of Palestine, who live under occupation and in a situation of armed conflicts, are constantly victims of political decisions and cannot have their voice heard.
In November 2010, under the auspices of the Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad, in cooperation with DCI - International Executive Council (IEC) and DCI - International Secretariat (IS), DCI-Palestine conducted its first international conference on Child Participation: “ Together We Build and Change   The aim of this conference was to discuss the best ways to promote active child participation without affecting the children’s enjoyment of their right to protection.

Children are bearers of rights and they have the right to defend them.


 

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