CRC/C/GC/12 page 25
organizational skills and strengthens a sense of identity. However, care needs to be taken to protect children from exposure to situations that are likely to be traumatic or harmful.
Accordingly, the Committee encourages States parties to support mechanisms
which enable children, in particular adolescents, to play an active role in both post- emergency reconstruction and post-conflict resolution processes. Their views should be elicited in the assessment, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes. For example, children in refugee camps can be encouraged to contribute
to their own safety and well-being through the establishment of children’s forums. Support needs to be given to enable children to establish such forums, while ensuring that their operation is consistent with children’s best interests and their right to protection from harmful experiences.
In national and international settings
Much of the opportunity for children’s participation takes place at the
community level. The Committee welcomes the growing number of local youth parliaments, municipal children’s councils and ad hoc consultations where children can voice their views in decision-making processes. However, these structures for formal representative participation in local government should be just one of many approaches to the implementation of article 12 at the local level, as they only allow for a relatively small number of children to engage in their local communities. Consulting hours of politicians and officials, open house and visits in schools and kindergartens create additional opportunities for communication.
Children should be supported and encouraged to form their own child-led
organizations and initiatives, which will create space for meaningful participation and representation. In addition, children can contribute their perspectives, for example, on
the design of schools, playgrounds, parks, leisure and cultural facilities, public libraries, health facilities and local transport systems in order to ensure more appropriate services.
In community development plans that call for public consultation, children’s views should be explicitly included.
Such participation opportunities are, meanwhile, established in many countries
also on the district, regional, federal state and national levels, where youth parliaments,
councils and conferences provide forums for children to present their views and make them known to relevant audiences. NGOs and civil society organizations have developed practices to support children, which safeguard the transparency of representation and counter the risks of manipulation or tokenism.
The Committee welcomes the significant contributions by UNICEF and NGOs
in promoting awareness-raising on children’s right to be heard and their participation in all domains of their lives, and encourages them to further promote child participation in
all matters affecting them, including at the grass-roots, community, and national or international levels, and to facilitate exchanges of best practices. Networking among child-led organizations should be actively encouraged to increase opportunities for shared learning and platforms for collective advocacy.