Monitoring children’s rights around the world

28 February 2022

BLOG by GlobalChild Project

Early childhood is a critical stage of growth and development that has the potential to influence an individual’s health, education and economic potential throughout life. Although the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) clearly defines children as “…every human being below the age of 18 years…”, the early age group is only implicitly recognized as rights holders.

In the decade after the UNCRC entered into force, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) observed that young children under the age of 8 years were often overlooked in States Parties’ UNCRC reports. The Committee deduced that States Parties (SPs) might be overlooking their obligations to young children and, perhaps, failing to consider young children as rights holders. General Comment 7: Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood (GC7) was drafted and adopted in response to this realization.

While GC7 represents authoritative guidance to SPs in fulfilling their UNCRC obligations to young children, without a corresponding operationalized framework of indicators, it was practically limited and, therefore, underutilized. Subsequently, the Committee commissioned an international team of experts to create sets of indicators for all of the UNCRC rights relevant to the young children and operationalize GC7 for SPs’ self-assessment.

An implementation manual for 17 sets of early childhood rights indicators was developed and, through a number of field tests, the group embarked upon developing the E-version of the indicators known as the Early Childhood Rights Indicators (ECRI).

ECRI was ultimately used as the foundation for an enormous global undertaking called GlobalChild; the world’s first comprehensive child rights monitoring platform for children 0-18 years old (GCh) which was launched in 2021.GCh is a digital child rights monitoring platform and user-friendly tool that translates the provisions, benchmarks, and government responsibilities for all 41 substantive rights in the CRC using the same indicator model from which ECRI was developed.

The GlobalChild platform is designed to support all 196 SPs to monitor their implementation of the CRC, track children’s development as well as the governments’ progress in fulfilling and promoting their children’s rights as articulated under the CRC.

The platform is currently undergoing pilots in the Canadian province of New Brunswick and Belgium. The foundational research for the GCh platform was compiled into the book “Monitoring State Compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: An Analysis of Attributes,” and recently published by Springer.

The practical applications of the GlobalChild Platform are:

  1. Harmonising CRC reporting systems and facilitating alternative reports, as the GlobalChild platform will standardize CRC reports through consistently addressing the same issues against identical sets of indicators.
  2. Supporting data-informed decision making, as systematic data collection and report writing will provide an inventory of existing and missing government capacities.
  3. Tracking progress in implementing children’s rights, as the establishment of baseline data, subsequent periodical inventory-taking, and institutional self assessment will form a comprehensive, longitudinal global data set on different aspects of children’s lives. Thus, both ECRI and GCh have the potential not only to improve CRC monitoring and reporting, but to improve child development as the associations discovered through the indicators can inform future revisions to policies and programs.

Further information: ECRI; GlobalChild.