News and Events

New Report from Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law Examines the Rights of Children to Participate in Public Decision-Making Processes

11 Jun 2020

The report was commissioned by the Child Rights Governance team at Save the Children and was undertaken by the Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law at the UCC School of Law and the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s University Belfast.

The right of children to participate in decision-making in all matters that affect their lives is a well-established legal principle and international research indicates growing evidence that states are implementing this principle in the sphere of public decision-making. Processes that ensure children’s participation include but are not limited to youth parliaments, consultations, social media engagement and children’s conferences.

The Right of Children to Participate in Public Decision-Making Processes’ was written by Dr Louise Forde, Professor Ursula Kilkelly and Deirdre Kelleher from the UCC School of Law’s Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law, in collaboration with Professor Laura Lundy of the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s University Belfast. It examines the research literature and the experience of civil society organisations working around the world to promote effective engagement with and participation by children and young people in decisions by national and local governments, and highlights the views and experiences of children themselves on their right to be heard.

The report identifies seven key building blocks that are conducive to effective children’s participation in public decision-making, namely:

  1. Recognising children’s rights to take civic action;
  2. Children’s participation should be secured through law and policy supported by sufficient investment;
  3. Strengthening children’s agency, self-esteem and knowledge to participate in public decision-making;
  4. Creating a conducive political, social and cultural environment, including addressing adult attitudes;
  5. Building quality spaces and processes for child participation in public decision-making;
  6. Structures should be inclusive and involve children from deprived and marginalised groups;
  7. Accountability, feedback and follow-up.

Speaking following the publication of the report, report co-author Professor Ursula Kilkelly from the UCC Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law said:

“This is the first report of its kind that documents the views of children with experience of participation in public-decision-making around the world with a view to driving improvements by raising awareness of best practice. The importance of involving children in public decision-making, a right of the child under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, matters more than ever in light of COVID-19 and it is hoped that this report will highlight how states parties can fulfil their duties in this important area.”

The report can be downloaded from the Save the Children Resource Centre at:

School of Law

Scoil an Dlí

Room 1.63, Aras na Laoi, T12 T656