Guarding Children's Rights: Letting Children Have Their Say May Help Safeguard Their Rights

Article excerpt

Children cannot vote in any of the institutions that make decisions about their lives, so human-rights advocates must have a special regard for children's rights, suggest Futures Research Quarterly editors Kenneth W. Hunter and Timothy C. Mack in International Rights and Responsibilities for the Future.

Despite having no say in government, businesses, or other institutions, children are subject to decisions that will dramatically affect their futures, such as resource use, environmental degradation, infrastructure and habitat design, the direction of scientific research, pension systems, educational paradigms, and so on.

And children continue to be abused and exploited outright in many countries around the world, Hunter and Mack note, stressing that children's human rights are an immediate concern, not just a speculative one.

"People concerned about human rights and the future have a special responsibility to represent future generations, including the children of today, in today's decision making," Hunter and Mack conclude.

Most nations agree with the goal of ensuring children's rights: According to UNICEF, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has now been "virtually universally ratified."

In Tunisia, UNICEF reports, "the government has embarked on an ambitious plan to establish a 'culture' of child rights in the country" by putting human rights into law school curricula and on the agendas of community centers, local governments, courtrooms, police stations, and even homes.

Children themselves are learning about children's rights through new teaching materials, such as the booklet Our Rights, distributed to 1. …