International Summer Course on the Rights of the Child

Raising the Banners of Freedom: Activism and CivicParticipation of Children and Youth in Light of Article 12 of the UNCRC

International Summer Course on the Rights of the Child

Université de Moncton

International Summer Course on the Rights of the Child

Raising the Banners of Freedom: Activism and CivicParticipation of Children and Youth in Light of Article 12 of the UNCRC

International Summer Course on the Rights of the Child

Université de Moncton

Call for proposal

Call for proposal

International Summer Course on the Rights of the Child

12th Edition

June 25th  to 30th 2023, University of Moncton, Canada

Raising the Banners of Freedom - Activism and Civic Participation of Children and Youth pursuant to Article 12 of the UNCRC

‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’, Nelson Mandela

The International Summer Course on the Rights of the Child is a privileged forum for exchanges among professionals working with children. It contributes to the promotion of best practices and the rights of the child as fundamental human rights under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It also aims to encourage decision-makers to develop public policies and programs to protect the best interests of children in New Brunswick, in Canada and around the world. The 12th edition of the Summer Course will focus on a collective reflection on issues related to activism and civic participation of children and young people in relation to article 12 of the UNCRC.

Along with non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, and the survival and development of the child, participation is one of the main principles and fundamental values of the Convention and its application extends to all of the rights guaranteed under the treaty. This specific principle is guaranteed under iarticle 12 which provides that "the State Parties guarantee to the child who is capable of discernment the right to express his opinion freely on any question which interests him, the opinions of the child being given due consideration having regard to his age and degree of maturity"[1].

Also, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child reinforces the right to informed and meaningful participation since it states in its General Comment No. 12 that "All processes in which the opinion and participation of one or more children are approached must be: transparent and informative, voluntary, respectful, relevant, child-friendly, inclusive, supported by training, safe and risk-informed, and responsible".

However, in most societies, the realization of the right of the child to express his or her views on the wide range of issues that concern them, and to have that view duly taken into account, continues to be hampered by numerous deeply rooted practices and mentalities and by political and economic obstacles[2].

In this context, what are the policies and strategies to be developed and implemented to enable the exercise of this right? What are the mechanisms that make it possible, in the formal or informal sectors, to offer an effective response to enable these children and young people to participate in an informed and meaningful way? How can we train and equip all stakeholders who work with children and make decisions affecting them to be knowledgeable and respectful of the child’s right to participate?

The Organizing Committee invites professionals from around the world and from Canada to share initiatives or reflections that seek answers to these questions in order to be able to discuss during the next edition of the Summer Course.

The Scientific and Organizing Committees of the Summer Course invite researchers, professionals and practicing professionals to propose communications that include the conceptual analysis, the implementation or the evaluation of the proposed themes. This forum for multidisciplinary exchanges on children's rights will be held on Campus at the Université de Moncton, Canada. The training is aimed at front line staff in child rights oversight offices, in schools, in child protection settings, in the health sector, recreational sector, public safety sector and community sectors who work primarily with and on behalf of children and young people. This year’s summer course is part of a multi-disciplinary three-year cycle aimed at training front line staff in the basic principles of child rights implementation. A hybrid format for the summer course is also envisaged. Professionals and researchers from different backgrounds are invited to intervene according to the general themes below:

THEMES

1 - Activism and civic participation in relation to the right to a healthy environment and the right to the highest possible state of health and development

Articles 24 and 29 of the UNCRC provide protective rights for children in relation to the environment. Article 24 is linked to the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, including the right to have safe food and drinking water as well as to be protected against pollution. Article 29 relates to the right of the child to information about environmental health issues. It further defines environmental education as one of the objectives of education.

In addition, the right to a safe and clean environment is a global priority identified in Goals 6 and 7 of UNICEF's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development[3].

Yet 1.7 million children lose their lives each year due to preventable environmental problems. Millions more children are forced to leave their homes, drop out of school and suffer from disease[4].

Faced with these facts, young activists all over the world, like Greta Thunberg in Sweden who leads the fight for carbon dioxide emission reductions, are mobilizing and campaigning for change.

In Canada, Autumn Peltier was only 8 years old when she made her first speech in favor of access to drinking water on Aboriginal reserves in Canada. Since then, the teenager from Wikwemikong First Nation has become a global spokesperson for this cause, carrying this message at the United Nations Water Day conference in 2018[5].

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is also mobilizing and is currently working on a draft General Comment on the rights of the child and the environment with a particular focus on climate change (General Comment No. 26). Most importantly, this General Comment is shaped by children and young people and especially by those in communities most affected by the environmental crisis.

The Scientific Committee invites contributions on the importance of children's rights and child participation in relation to climate change, and the rights to a healthy environment and the highest possible level of health and development. Initiatives from the public sector, the private sector and civil society are invited to submit and to clearly identify the elements of success in relation to these issues.

 

2 - Activism and civic participation for inclusion and protection against discrimination — Issues of minority communities, including LGBTQIA+ and First Nations

Non-discrimination is one of the main principles of the UNCRC and as such governs the implementation of all of its articles. Faced with still too many obstacles to this fundamental value, children and young people are mobilizing and campaigning for an inclusive and respectful society.

For example, the Black Lives Matter movement is a political movement born in 2013 in the United States within the African-American community, which militates against systemic racism and fights to bring justice, healing and freedom to black communities across the world.

In Canada, organizations like Equitas are mobilizing to provide the opportunity for young people across the country to participate in national conversations on equality, inclusion and diversity and learn to respond to the problems of their community by launching projects of community action[6].

In the United States, Jazz Jennings campaigns to defend the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. In 2007, at the age of 6, she spoke in a television spot on the difficulties of being a transgender child. She is one of the youngest people publicly identified as transgender.

The Scientific Committee invites proposals for conferences dealing with movements and initiatives related to the right to participation and the right to protection against discrimination or to education and awareness of different cultures and inclusion.

 

3 - Activism and civic participation in relation to mental health and available mental health services

Article 24 recognizes the right of children and young people to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. Beyond physical health, the right to health of children and young people also means a right to well-being in general and includes the right to appropriate treatment in terms of mental health.

According to the most recent available global estimates, more than one in seven adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 live with a diagnosed mental disorder[7]. Nearly 46,000 adolescents commit suicide each year, making it one of the top five causes of death for this age group. At the same time, significant gaps persist between mental health needs and the funding allocated to this issue.

 

Also, the harmful effects of the pandemic on the mental health of children and young people are growing significantly, with more and more young people reporting an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety in recent years.

Increasingly, young people are speaking out and mobilizing for better access to mental health services, and in particular they are mobilizing to open up and speak freely to combat stigma and share their lived experiences.

All over the world, platforms such as Headspace in Australia, Jigsaw in Ireland, or Foundry or Access Open Minds in Canada are emerging and allow children and young people to come into contact with other young people, to appropriate a space and tools for their own mental health, or to get in touch with a professional.

Also, in the field of research, the right of children and young people to participate and to have their opinion duly taken into account in research that concerns them is emerging as the dominant and standard practice.

Increasingly, the adage “Nothing about us without us” and the implementation of “By and for young people” practices are finding their place and being claimed and defended by young people.

The Scientific Committee invites proposals dealing with promising practices, case studies, policies or programs to better implement the right to participation of children and young people in relation to their mental health and their meaningful involvement in matters that concern them.

 

4 - Activism and civic participation in connection with participation in justice and political life

Article 12 of the Convention places particular emphasis on taking the views of the child into account in “any judicial or administrative proceedings”.

Thus, a first part of this right includes the participation of children and young people before the courts; a right that goes beyond simple freedom of expression. This right applies as much to children in trouble with the criminal justice system as to child victims of a criminal offence, or to children involved in family proceedings, for example in matters of custody or adoption.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its General Comment No. 12[8], reiterates the importance of this fundamental right in the context of justice for children. In the same vein, the Committee in its General Comment No. 24[9] addresses several recommendations to Member States in order to guarantee the effective participation of children in the procedure. In this sense, child-friendly justice initiatives stand out as best practices in the field.

Participation in justice can also take the form of actions taken directly by children and young people to defend their rights and interests. Thus, many class actions brought by young people have emerged around the world.

A second part of this right includes the participation of children and young people in political life.

In the spirit of an associative and participative democracy, the UNCRC in its preamble insists on the importance "of fully preparing the child to have an individual life in society". Thus, children and young people should participate in the decision-making process with adults on the issues of their social, political, economic life, etc.
 

According to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its General Comment No. 12[10], it is important to provide for different methods for the participation of children at the community, national and international levels. The systems of municipal youth councils or youth parliaments promote the application of this right.

The Scientific Committee invites proposals dealing with initiatives, best practices, case studies or examples of class actions, court interventions, political campaigns, human rights complaints and other means through which children have demanded their rights before judicial or administrative tribunals or alternatively of the processes and procedures through which those tribunals have accommodated or facilitated they participation of children and young people.

 

5 - Various themes

The themes proposed above do not claim to be exclusive in any way. Therefore, a limited number of proposals will be able to address other aspects that have not been mentioned, provided that these fit with the general subject of the Summer Course, as described above.

 

TYPES OF COMMUNICATIONS

Please specify the presentation format in your application. There are four formats available:

Round Table : 1- to 3-hour presentation by several presenters. Please submit a title, a summary of the presentation, the names of the other participants, and the time needed, accounting for periods of discussion and the number of participants.

Oral Presentation : The length of each presentation (from 20 to 30 minutes) is determined by the Organizing Committee depending on the number of presentations received.

Workshop : Workshops (from 60 to 90 minutes) can be about techniques for using a tool, an approach, or a practice. Workshops are more effective with a smaller group of participants.

Poster Communication : This format provides the opportunity to present the results of a research, an approach, a tool or a practice in the form of a poster. Poster dimensions should not exceed 60cm x 120cm (2ft x 4ft) in portrait format or 120cm x 60cm (4ft x 2ft) in landscape format. You must submit the abstract of your poster communication.

The Committee will do its best to respect your choice of formats but reserves the right to use a different format if necessary.

Child and Youth Proposals are actively encouraged for this edition of the summer course. A separate Child and Youth Programs will be available throughout the week, but children and young people will be encouraged to present alongside their adult peers and to co-create with them as learners throughout the event. Please see the online Call for Proposals for Child and Youth Presentations, however mixed panels of adult and youth presenters are welcome in response to this Call for Proposals as well.

 

TERMS OF SUBMISSION AND POSSIBILITY OF PUBLICATION

Anyone who wants to submit a proposal for an oral presentation in one of the two official languages of New Brunswick and Canada - English or French - is invited to do so.

Your presentation proposal must respect the following criteria in order to be reviewed:

  • The summary can be no longer than half a page in length. Please specify which of the themes you will address (Theme 1,2,3,4 or other theme), the presentation format, and the title.
  • Your proposal must include a small biography (250 words maximum) and a picture of you, sent as two separate Word or PDF documents. In order to maintain anonymity, your proposal (Word or PDF) must not contain anything that could identify you personally.
  • Please specify if you want to be published in the Revue de l’Université de Moncton. The rules for publication will be sent to authors who are confirmed as participants.

*NOTE THE EXTENDED DEADLINE TO DECEMBER 31st*

Please submit your proposal before December 31, 2022. The Organizing Committee will assess proposals and evaluate their ability to enrich the dialogue.

Submit your application

[1] Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, https://www.ohchr.org/fr/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/convention-r...

[2] Resolution S-27/2, “A world fit for children”, adopted by the General Assembly in 2002. CRC/C/GC/12

[3] UNICEF and the Sustainable Development Goals, Investing in children and young people to achieve a more equitable, just and sustainable world for all, https://www.unicef.org/sdgs#sdg10

[4] United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 26, https://childrightsenvironment.org/about/

[5] United Nations Water Day, Autumn Peltier, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg60sr38oic

[6] Equitas, Speaking Rights Program, https://speakingrights.ca

[7] The State of the World's Children 2021, On My Mind: Promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health, https://www.unicef.org/reports/state-worlds-children-2021?utm_source=ref...

[8] Committee on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, General Comment No. 12 (2009), paragraphs 57-64, https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/advanceversions/crc-c-gc-...

[9] Committee on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, General Comment No. 24 (2019), paragraph 46, https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/general-comments-and-recommendations/...

[10] Committee on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, General Comment No. 12 (2009), paragraphs 127 and seq., https://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/advanceversions/crc-c-gc-...