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Ombudsman for Children's Project: Participation Audit

About the project

Through its ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, the Irish State made a formal commitment under international law to implement the Convention's principles and provisions. Enshrined in Article 12, the right of children and young people under the age of 18 years to participate in decision-making processes affecting them constitutes both a substantive right in itself and a mechanism to support the promotion, protection and vindication of the other rights of children defined in the Convention. The first goal of the National Children's Strategy rendered children's right to participate in decision-making a matter of national public policy in Ireland for the first time. The Ombudsman for Children's Office (OCO), established in 2003, wishes to identify a suitable model of and structures for the participation of children and young people across the OCO's roles and functions such that the models and structures employed will enable the OCO to:

  • Meet its statutory responsibilities under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 to 'establish structures to consult regularly with groups of children'(Section 7 (2)(a) and ensure that 'the views of the child shall be given due weight in accordance with the age of the child' ( Section 7 (2) (b))
  • Enhance its own capacity to promote and protect the rights and welfare of children and young people
  • Contribute to raising awareness of children's right to be heard and to promoting children's participation in decision-making processes affecting them
  • Evolve as a model for children's and young people's participation in decision-making.

What did the research focus on?

The research focuses on existing models and structures enabling the participation of children in decision-making processes in a range of organizations in Ireland and internationally including Ombudsmen in other countries. It also explores the understanding of children and adults around the concepts and experiences involved in participation.

What did the research involve?

There are three complementary elements in the research which taken together will support the identification of a meaningful and viable model of and structures for children's and young people's participation across the OCO's role and functions. They are:

  1. A targeted audit of relevant existing models and structures for children's and young people's participation in decision-making both in and beyond Ireland
  2. Action research to facilitate the involvement of OCO staff in the research, including those aspects designed to support the involvement of children and young people in the project
  3. Action research to facilitate the involvement of children and young people in the research.

Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).