CRC/C/GC/12 page 5
monitoring experience of the Committee;
Propose basic requirements for appropriate ways to give due weight to children’s views in all matters that affect them.
THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD: A RIGHT OF THE INDIVIDUAL CHILD AND A RIGHT OF GROUPS OF CHILDREN
The general comment is structured according to the distinction made by the
Committee between the right to be heard of an individual child and the right to be heard as applied to a group of children (e.g. a class of schoolchildren, the children in a neighbourhood, the children of a country, children with disabilities, or girls). This is a relevant distinction because the Convention stipulates that States parties must assure the right of the child to be heard according to the age and maturity of the child (see the following legal analysis of paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 12).
The conditions of age and maturity can be assessed when an individual child is
heard and also when a group of children chooses to express its views. The task of assessing a child’s age and maturity is facilitated when the group in question is a component of an enduring structure, such as a family, a class of schoolchildren or the residents of a particular neighbourhood, but is made more difficult when children express themselves collectively. Even when confronting difficulties in assessing age and
maturity, States parties should consider children as a group to be heard, and the Committee strongly recommends that States parties exert all efforts to listen to or seek the views of those children speaking collectively.
States parties should encourage the child to form a free view and should
provide an environment that enables the child to exercise her or his right to be heard.
The views expressed by children may add relevant perspectives and experience
and should be considered in decision-making, policymaking and preparation of laws and/or measures as well as their evaluation.
These processes are usually called participation. The exercise of the child’s or
children’s right to be heard is a crucial element of such processes. The concept of participation emphasizes that including children should not only be a momentary act,
but the starting point for an intense exchange between children and adults on the development of policies, programmes and measures in all relevant contexts of children’s lives.
In section A (Legal analysis) of the general comment, the Committee deals
with the right to be heard of the individual child. In section C (The implementation of the right to be heard in different settings and situations), the Committee considers the
right to be heard of both the individual child and children as a group.
Article 12 of the Convention establishes the right of every child to freely
express her or his views, in all matters affecting her or him, and the subsequent right for those views to be given due weight, according to the child’s age and maturity. This right