Module Three

Child Participation

This module provides guidance to help ensure participation rights are fulfilled and to achieve greater citizenship and governance for children. It details specific ways development cooperation can support governments in realizing these rights and effectively integrating them into their own programming cycles and sector approaches. This module:

  1. Explains the importance of child participation as a right in itself and also as an instrument to realize all other rights;
  2. Explains what is meant by authentic/ meaningful participation and identify opportunities for this at all levels;
  3. Identifies the steps necessary to develop an environment conducive to realizing the right to participation within political dialogue and national policy and development plans;
  4. Identifies recommended interventions to support the realization of child participation rights.

References and resources

  1. Commission of the European Communities, ‘A Special Place for Children in EU External Action’, Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Brussels, 2008.
  2. Commission of the European Communities, ‘The European Union’s Action Plan on Children’s Rights in External Action’, Brussels, 2008.
  3. Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 5: General measures of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Thirty-fourth session, Geneva, 19 September–3 October 2003.
  4. Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 9: The rights of children with disabilities, Forty-third session, Geneva, 11–29 September 2006.
  5. Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment 12: The right of the child to be heard, Fifty-first session, Geneva, 25 May-12 June 2009.
  6. Council of the European Union, ‘Council Conclusions on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child in the European Union's External Action: The development and humanitarian dimensions’, 2870th External Relations Council meeting, Brussels, 26 and 27 May 2008.
  7. Feinstein, Clare and O’Kane, Claire, Ethical Guidelines for Ethical, Meaningful and Inclusive Children’s Participation Practice, Save the Children Norway 2008 
  8. Hart, Roger, A., Children’s Participation: The theory and practice of involving young citizens in community development and environmental care, Routledge, New York, 1997.
  9. Hart, Jason, Newman, Jessie and Ackermann, Lisanne with Feeny, Thomas, Understanding and Evaluating Children’s Participation in Development, Plan Ltd and Plan International UK, London, 2004.
  10. Inter-Agency Working Group on Children’s Participation, ‘Operations Manual on Children’s Participation in Consultations’, IAWGCP, Bangkok, 2007.
  11. International Save the Children Alliance, ‘Practice Standards on Child Participation’, Save the Children, London, 2005.
  12. Lansdown, Gerison, ‘Promoting Children’s Participation in Democratic Decision-making’, United Nations Children’s Fund, New York, 2002.
  13. Lansdown, Gerison, ‘Can You Hear Me? The right of young children to participate in decisions affecting them’, Bernard van Leer Foundation, The Hague, 2005.
  14. Lansdown, Gerison, ‘See Me, Hear Me: A guide to using the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote the rights of children’, Save the Children, London, 2009.
  15. Lansdown, Gerison, Every Child’s Right to be Heard: A resource guide on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 12, Save the Children and United Nations Children’s Fund, 2011.
  16. Laws, Sophie and Mann, Gillian, ‘So You Want to Involve Children in Research? A toolkit supporting children’s meaningful and ethical participation in research relating to violence against children’, Save the Children Sweden, Stockholm, 2004.
  17. Miller, Jenn, ‘Children as Change Agents: A review of child participation in periodic reporting on the Convention on the Rights of the Child’, World Vision, Ontario, 2008.
  18. NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ‘A Guide for Non-governmental Organizations Reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child’, NGO Group, Geneva, 2006.
  19. O’Kane, Claire, ‘Children and Young People as Citizens: Partners for social change – Exploring concepts’, Save the Children Sweden, Kathmandu, 2003.
  20. Rajbhandary, Jasmine, Hart, Roger and Khatiwada, Chandrika, ‘The Children's Clubs of Nepal: A Democratic Experiment’, Save the Children Norway, Kathmandu, 1997.
  21. Save the Children, Getting it Right for Children: A practitioners guide to child rights programming, Save the Children UK, London, 2007.
  22. United Nations, ‘United Nations Millennium Declaration’, New York, 8 September 2000.
  23. United Nations, ‘A World Fit for Children’, A/RES/S-27/2, New York, 2002.
  24. United Nations, ‘Report of the Independent Expert for the United Nations Study on Violence against Children’, A/61/299, 29 August 2006.
  25. United Nations, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’, New York, 2007
  26. United Nation’s Children’s Fund, Child and Youth Participation Resource Guide, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, 2006
  27. United Nations Children’s Fund, A World Fit for Us: The Children’s Statement from the UN  Special Session on Children – five years on, UNICEF, New York, 2007.
  28. United Nations Children’s Fund, Machel Study 10-year Strategic Review: Children and conflict in a changing world, UNICEF, New York, 2009.


  1. – the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) is a network of child rights organizations that work to improve the lives of children.
  2. – child and youth participation online resource directory. 
  3. – on children’s participation at the Special session and related links. 
  4. – information on large-scale polls among children in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
  5. – the Voice of the Youth homepage. 
  6. – for media initiatives aimed involving young people. 
  7. – UNICEF’s website for teachers includes ideas on how to involve children as researchers and on child-friendly schools. 
  8. – for ideas on participatory urban planning. 
  9. – for the ‘Growing Up In Cities‘ initiative. 
  10. – home page of the Save the Children Alliance. 
  11. – World Bank site on participation and civic engagement, with direct links to sources on participatory tools methods. 
  12. – the Institute for Development Studies, Sussex is one of the leading centres for research and teaching on participatory development. 
  13. – OXFAM’s website includes a page on its International Youth Partnership. 
  14. – site of the UK National Children’s Bureau, for free downloads of a wide variety of books and papers on children’s participation. 
  15. – the Children's Environments Research Group (CERG) provides an important link between university scholarship and the development of design, policy and programmes that both improve the quality of environments for children and enhance children's interaction with them.
  16. – a site with information on how to set up and run school councils. 
  17. – the UN Programme on Youth is the focal point on youth within the United Nations. It aims to build awareness of the global situation of young people as well as promote their rights and aspirations.
  18. – the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has a focus on adolescents and youth based on the recognition that young people, particularly those living in poverty, have been virtually ignored in policies and programmes and that this period of their lives is a critical transition between childhood and taking on adult responsibilities.