What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and how can it be used in development programming? This handbook from Save the Children demonstrates how the CRC can be used as the basis for the project cycle and efforts for advocacy and change. It promotes the Child Rights Programming (CRP) approach and provides guidance about how to use this approach in practice.
The CRC builds on five main principles: (i) Non-discrimination: All rights apply to all children (ii) The Gender Perspective: This cuts across all other social and political aspects and must be included in any analysis (iii) The Best Interests of the Child: All actions concerning the child should be in their best interests (iv) Rights to Survival and Development: The State is obliged to ensure this right is fulfilled (v) Participation: Children have a right to be involved in decisions which affect them.
CRP means using the principles of child rights to plan, manage, implement and monitor programmes with the overall goal of strengthening the rights of the child. CRP considers all of a child’s developmental needs in a holistic way, and the rights of the child are integral to all aspects and stages of programmes, including:
- Situation analysis: To include an audit of the situation of child rights, the immediate and underlying causes of violations and the views and experiences of children. It also involves identifying who is responsible for preventing existing violations.
- Setting priorities: These will depend on a variety of factors such as the severity of violations, political support and the effectiveness of the invested costs.
- Implementation: There are three aspects of this: Practical actions to directly address violations; strengthening the ‘infrastructure’ to overcome constraints and monitor progress and building a constituency of support in society for children’s rights.
- Monitoring and evaluation: This should measure changes in awareness of children’s rights; changes in policies and institutional capacity to fulfil children’s rights and changes in the actual situation of children.
CRP has several operational implications, such as changes in organisational culture, and new management, financial and reporting structures to accommodate the flexibility and cross-sector working required by this approach. In addition:
- Organisations evolving towards CRP will need to shift from a service delivery approach to a more holistic one linking service delivery, advocacy and awareness-raising. It will also mean adapting structures and developing staff competencies.
- They will also need to develop an understanding of children, child rights and child development. Learning to support child participation, carry out advocacy and develop communication and public education will also be important.
- The basic principles of this approach need wholehearted organisational commitment. Children should be involved at all levels, and advocacy and campaigning will become more important.
- Some will challenge the validity of CRP. Common objections include that it is biased towards Western notions of policy and childhood, and that there is a contradiction between cultural rights and universal rights. It can, however, be argued that CRP can be worked out in locally appropriate, non-prescriptive ways.
- Some may also question whether CRP can be implemented where government capacity is very weak. The principles of CRP can be used to plan the optimal allocation of scarce resources and to find ways to build capacity.