Sharing the City with Children: A Comparative Analysis of Practices to Facilitate Child Participation in Decision-Making Processes
Karar Alma Süreçlerinde Çocuk Katılımı
Keywords:Child Rights, Participation, Child Participation, Child Impact Assessment
In this article, the development process of children’s rights and the responsibility of child participation as a right in the decision-making mechanisms of adults are explained. It also analyzes and compares different country models that include children in decision-making. Throughout the article, the main determinants of the child’s right to participation and the responsibilities it imposes on adults are focused with reference to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The documents developed by focusing directly on the child were updated in line with evolving and changing needs over time, and children’s rights were comprehensively addressed with the UNCRC in 1989. In the documents developed until the UNCRC, the child’s right to participation was not mentioned. Since the beginning of the 2000s, various tools, directives and guidelines have been developed to draw attention to this deficient perspective and to try to close the gap in the field with practical applications and to facilitate children’s participation in decisions. One of the main concerns of the tools developed is to emphasize that none of the rights set out in the UNCRC are superior to each other, and that the right to participation is one of the four fundamental principles that have a key role in the realization of all rights in the convention.
The tools developed by different countries, particularly Sweden, in line with their own capacities and needs are known as Child Impact Assessments or Child Rights Impact Assessments (CIA). Tools are guidelines that many countries have developed according to their own characteristics and needs and that take into account and focus on Article 3 of the UNCRC, which regulates the best interests of children, and Article 12, which regulates the right to participation.
Within the scope of this article, the CIA tools of Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland, Australia and New Zealand and the CIA tool piloted by two researchers, including the author, within the framework of a sample decision within the framework of cooperation between Istanbul Bilgi University Child Studies (ÇOÇA) and Şişli Municipality are included.
The CIA tools of Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland, Australia and New Zealand, have been compared against a set of criteria. The criteria for comparison were defined using the child rights index ranking, which publishes annual reports on the ranking of countries in the field of child rights, Hart’s Ladder of Child Participation model, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment No. 12 on the right of the child to participate and the ethical framework to be considered when working with children.
Finland, which ranked first among the five countries in the child rights index, also ranked first in this ranking. The approach of not limiting the scope of the report to decisions related to children is considered to be a perspective that supports the inclusion of children in decisions in the city where children live together. On the other hand, the fact that no country has made space for children in the report team will lead to a failure to fully include children’s perspective and participation in the reports. Supporting the inclusion of children in the report team is a reflection of the approach that sees children as individuals. In the majority of countries, there is a feedback process for children whose views are sought, including how much, where and how their views were used, and why views that were not used or deemed inappropriate were not included. Similarly, monitoring of implementation processes is important for children to see the extent to which their views are reflected in concrete terms and is something that the majority of countries observe. Although the preparation and dissemination of a child-facing version of the report to children is still a practice practiced by a limited number of countries, it is expected to become more widespread as it is an enjoyable document to read not only for children but also for adults. As a result, it is difficult for decision-makers to find a common axis on child participation and adults often make decisions based on the needs of the child.