Child and youth participation resource guide

Basics of child and youth participation


Frameworks for mainstreaming

Guide to the Option Protocol Conflict on the Involvement of Children In Armed Conflict

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict – entered into force on 12 February 2002 – is a milestone in the campaign, strengthening the legal protection of children and helping to prevent their use in armed conflict. The Optional Protocol raises the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities to 18 years from the previous minimum age of 15 years specified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other legal instruments. The treaty also prohibits compulsory recruitment by government forces of anyone under 18 years of age, and calls on State Parties to raise the minimum age above 15 for voluntary recruitment, and to implement strict safeguards when voluntary recruitment of children under 18 years is permitted. UNICEF and the non-governmental organization Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers have developed this Guide to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict as a contribution to the campaign to prevent and end the use of child soldiers. It is hoped that this publication will be useful for mobilizing national and international efforts in support of that goal. The Guide is intended to be useful for UNICEF staff and human rights and humanitarian agencies, in particular those involved in national coalitions or as partner organizations of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. This publication contains essential information on the Optional Protocol: the context surrounding its adoption, efforts supporting its objectives, its key provisions, the processes for signature and ratification.

Independent Human Rights Institutions for Children?
Save the Children Sweden Report from a seminar in Stockholm 2008 (Veronica Yates)

The aim of this paper is to highlight some of the issues that were discussed at the above seminar by a number of participants, including ombudsmen, government representatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and other child rights experts. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations on independence and working relationships with other stakeholders and some points for future discussions and research. The research project has focused on the question of having separate offices for children, on evidence of impact of existing offices, what makes a good ombudsman and whether there is a need for an international framework or whether various existing formats (whether national, regional or local) work differently in different countries. Case studies are presented from the experiences of children’s ombudsmen’s institutions in Sweden, Norway and Ireland. The compilation of conclusions and recommendations underline the need for the independence, the mandate and the appointment of ombudsmen. The second section includes recommendations for working with relevant stakeholders, the third section includes recommendations for working with children, and the final section contains a list of next steps

A UN Interagency Initiative for Marginalized adolescent Girls

This document  provides a brief  overview of a UN joint programming framework for marginalized adolescent girls. Evaluations of adolescent development and participation programmes in 15 countries from 1999–2006 revealed a segment of the youth population that had been left behind: marginalized adolescent girls. An Interagency Task Force on Adolescent Girls was established in 2007 to reorient youth programmes to better reach marginalized adolescent girls. Co-chaired by UNFPA and UNICEF, the Task Force includes the ILO, UNESCO,UNIFEM, and WHO.
The Task Force supports collaboration at country level—with government ministries, NGOs and women’s and girls’ networks—to identify marginalized adolescent girls in selected communities and to implement programmes aimed at ending their marginalization and enabling adolescent girls to claim their full rights and access to social services, particularly education, health care, employment and human development. The Task Force identified the need for a clear interagency programming framework specifically addressing the most marginalized and disadvantaged adolescent girls, complementing existing frameworks and programmes on adolescent development and participation.


Youth and the Millennium Development Goals: Challenges and Opportunities for Implementation
Final Report of the Ad Hoc Working Group for Youth and the MDGs April 2005

This paper provides an overview of youth participation as it currently exists, outlines the ways in which youth are directly involved and affected by each MDG, demonstrate the ways in which young people are contributing to their realization, and to provide ‘Options for Action’ that governments, the UN system, donors and other actors can use. The report demonstrates that investing in youth, whose number of the 15-24 age group is cc. 1.2 billion , will provide the longest and most effective dividend towards meeting the MDGs by building the social capital needed to foster pragmatic development.

Participation in the Second Decade of Life What and Why? - One
Commonwealth Secretariat, 2005

In July 2002, UNICEF's Adolescent Development and Participation Unit commissioned the Commonwealth Youth Programme to prepare a toolkit on promoting meaningful children’s and young people’s participation based on the experiences and lessons learnt by UNICEF country programmes around the world. The resulting four booklets on youth development and participation offer a comprehensive view on the issue. However, the examples provided in this booklet are merely used for illustration and do not necessarily represent UNICEF or CYP views. The tools recommended should be adapted to the home country situation, taking into consideration the cultural, social and political context.

Adolescent and Youth Participation – Two
Adults Get Ready! Commonwealth Secretariat 2005

This booklet is part of a series made up of practical models and tools for putting the ideas and commitments of the 2002 UN Special Session on Children into practice. Its aim is to provide opportunities for adolescents and young people1 to participate in the decision-making affecting their lives – not just once, but every day. The series is designed for programme staff of development agencies and everyone with an interest in adolescents’ development, community development, and national and global development. Together, the booklets form part of a common framework for participation. Within this framework, strategies can be adjusted according to the sector of work and the cultural context. Adolescent and Youth Participation: Adults Get Ready! describes roles adults can play in creating an enabling environment for adolescents’ participation and the ideas and tools for preparing adults to take on these roles. This booklet complements Booklets 3 (Adolescent Participation and the Project Cycle) and 4 (Tools for Adolescent and Youth Participation) in the series, both of which give ideas and tools for adolescents and adults to participate in decision-making throughout the project cycle.

Adolescent Participation and the Project Cycle – Three
Commonwealth Secretariat, 2005

This is the third booklet in a series containing practical models and tools for putting the ideas and commitments of the 2002 UN Special Session on Children into practice. Taken together the set of booklets can help create opportunities and develop capacities of adolescents and young people1 to be able to participate effectively in decision-making on issues which affect their lives. The series is designed for programme staff of development agencies; teachers; policy-makers – everyone with an interest in adolescents’ development, community development, and national and global development. (More about the Human Rights rational  for adolescent participation is found in Booklet 1 Participation in the Second Decade of Life: What and Why?
This booklet gives organizing principles for discovering what roles adolescents and adults can play as part of the project development and implementation processes, and for achieving adolescent participation at all stages of a project.

 Tools for Adolescent and Youth Participation – Four
Commonwealth Secretariat,2005

This booklet is the last in a series of four which contain practical models and tools designed to develop the capacity of adolescents and the adults who work with them for putting the ideals and commitments of the 2002 UN Special Session on Children into practice. Most of the tools outlined can be used with adolescents of various ages. Often, it will be necessary to first run exercises with different age groups separately, and then run exercises which bring them together.

Council for the Welfare of Children and UNICEF, The National Framework for Children’s Participation: A guide in promoting and upholding children’s participation in the Philippines, Manila, Philippines, 2005.
This is an introduction for policy makers and programme managers for strengthening work with children in diverse situations. The framework was drawn from the experiences of children and young people and includes a list of indicators for implementing and monitoring progress for children’s participation.

Cutler, David and Alice Taylor, Expanding and Sustaining Involvement: A snapshot of participation infrastructure for young people living in England, Carnegie Young People Initiative and the Department for Education and Skills, UK, 2003.
This report looks at the existing research on organizational participation infrastructure (both public and private institutions) in the UK. Infrastructure is defined as the systems and procedures, structures and resources that an organization uses to involve young people in public decision making. The document analyses the essential frameworks that need to be in place within organizations for good practice on children’s participation.

Government of Ireland, The National Children’s Strategy, Our children – their lives, The Stationary Office, Dublin, Ireland, 2000.
The National Children’s Strategy is an innovative social policy initiative to advance Ireland’s implementation of the CRC. Based on six principles, this forms the basis for all future work on meeting the needs of children and their families. The framework highlights the three national goals: children will have a voice, children’s lives will be better understood and children will benefit from quality services, supports and new structural arrangements to ensure implementation.

Kirby, Perpetua, Claire Lanyon, Kathleen Cronin and Ruth Sinclair, Building a Culture of Participation: Involving children and young people in policy, service planning, delivery and evaluation, Handbook. Department for Education and Skills, ISBN 0-9546695-1-7, Nottingham, UK, 2003.
This handbook draws on the findings of a research study that explored the experiences of 29 organizations in seeking to listen to young people and to take action on what they said. It moves beyond the acceptance of children’s involvement in organizations and looks at how commitments can be translated into practice by bringing about changes to actively involve children and young people in services and policy making.

Kirby, Perpetua, Claire Lanyon, Kathleen Cronin and Ruth Sinclair, Building a Culture of Participation: Involving children and young people in policy, service planning, delivery and evaluation, Research Report, Department for Education and Skills, ISBN 0-9546695-0-9, Nottingham, UK, 2003.
This report examines the practice and outcomes of children’s participation in 29 organizations. Because most of the organizations did not formally document the outcomes of children’s participation, the researchers relied on the perceptions of those involved.

Krauskopf Dina and Ginet Vargas, Building Participation with Adolescents: Conceptual systematisation and strategic guidelines, UNICEF TACRO, Panama City, 2003.
Building on the results of the Regional Workshop on Experiences in Adolescent Participation, this document provides the strategic plan for UNICEF’s work with adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean. It discusses the concept of participation for this age group and examines existing structural risks and opportunities. It proposes recommendations on developing the individual capabilities of adolescents and on finding appropriate ways for adolescents to contribute and participate in the family, school, community and society.

Lansdown, Gerison, Programming Strategy with and for Adolescents in East Asia and the Pacific, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2004.
Adolescent participation is a cross-cutting issue that cannot be restricted to any one programme area. This document emphasizes the need to take a holistic approach towards building adolescent participation across all of UNICEF’s work and affirms the cross-sector approach in dealing with other UN agencies and partners.

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Three Billion Reasons: Norway’s development strategy for children and young people in the South, Oslo, 2005.
This strategy paper upholds the CRC principles by adopting a holistic approach to children and young people’s development. It focuses on creating opportunities for active participation of children and young people in claiming their rights to health, education and protection. It also includes a checklist for monitoring compliance and progress in implementing this strategy.
O’Kane, Claire, ‘Mainstreaming Child Participation in Programming’ Children and Young People as Citizens: Partners for social change, Book 2, Learning from Experience, Save the Children Alliance, South and Central Asia Region, Kathmandu, 2004, pp. 22-65. (Also available in PDF)
This chapter emphasizes that children’s participation is a cross-cutting issue. It needs to be integrated in all stages and areas of work with children. The chapter provides recommendations for organizations moving towards a vision of children’s participation.

Rajani, Rakesh, The Participation Rights of Adolescents: A strategic approach, UNICEF, New York, 2001.
This is a resource for policy makers, programmers, advocates and activists interested in promoting the meaningful participation of young people at the global, country and community levels. The author argues that a development approach that emphasizes investing in young people’s assets and protective factors is more effective than focusing only on fixing young people’s problems.

Theis, Joachim, Child and Adolescent Participation Strategy, East Asia and Pacific Region, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005.
This strategy paper aims to promote the participation of children and adolescents in the East Asia and Pacific region. It provides a comprehensive analysis of children’s participation and proposes a systematic approach to promoting children’s participation rights to information, expression, decision making and association.

UNICEF, Adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean: Policy Guidelines, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNICEF TACRO, Bogota, 2001.
This policy document presents proposals and guidelines for developing policies and programmes for adolescents based on the principles of the CRC. It recognizes the particular needs of adolescents and includes sections on education, health, families and communities.

UNICEF, ‘Guidance note on promoting participation of children and young people’, Programme Policy and Procedures Manual, Section 13, UNICEF, New York, 2005.

This guidance note reflects UNICEF’s transition to an approach to programme cooperation for children and women based on human rights principles. Section 13 provides a guide on promoting the participation of children and young people.
Available for download: (only accessible by UNICEF staff)

World Bank, Children and Youth: A framework for action, Section on Participation and Partnership, World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2005.
This document outlines the World Bank’s programming framework for children and youth. It includes references to and guidance for promoting the participation and citizenship of children and young people.

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