CRC/C/GC/12 page 18
This requirement is stimulated by article 12 of the Convention, which stipulates
that the child’s views must be given due weight, whenever the child is capable of forming her or his own views. In other words, as children acquire capacities, so they are
entitled to an increasing level of responsibility for the regulation of matters affecting them. 12
Article 12 and the implementation of child rights in general
In addition to the articles discussed in the preceding paragraphs, most other articles of
the Convention require and promote children’s involvement in matters affecting them. For these manifold involvements, the concept of participation is ubiquitously used. Unquestionably, the lynchpin of these involvements is article 12, but the requirement of planning, working and developing in consultation with children is present throughout the Convention.
The practice of implementation deals with a broad range problems, such as
health, the economy, education or the environment, which are of interest not only to the child as an individual, but to groups of children and children in general. Consequently, the Committee has always interpreted participation broadly in order to establish procedures not only for individual children and clearly defined groups of children, but
also for groups of children, such as indigenous children, children with disabilities, or children in general, who are affected directly or indirectly by social, economic or cultural conditions of living in their society.
This broad understanding of children’s participation is reflected in the outcome
document adopted by the twenty-seventh special session of the General Assembly entitled “A world fit for children”. States parties have promised “to develop and implement programmes to promote meaningful participation by children, including adolescents, in decision-making processes, including in families and schools and at the local and national levels” (para. 32, subpara. 1). The Committee has stated in its general comment No. 5 on general measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “It is important that Governments develop a direct relationship with children, not simply one mediated through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or
human rights institutions.”
The implementation of the right to be heard in different settings and situations
The right of the child to be heard has to be implemented in the diverse settings
and situations in which children grow up, develop and learn. In these settings and situations, different concepts of the child and her or his role exist, which may invite or restrict children’s involvement in everyday matters and crucial decisions. Various ways of influencing the implementation of the child’s right to be heard are available, which States parties may use to foster children’s participation.
In the family
A family where children can freely express views and be taken seriously from
the earliest ages provides an important model, and is a preparation for the child to exercise the right to be heard in the wider society.14 Such an approach to parenting
General comment No. 5 (2003) on general measures of implementation for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ibid., para. 12.