Joint Committee On Human Rights Ninth Report


There already exist, or are on their way to being established, commissioners for the children of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. In our Sixth Report in this Session, we recommended the establishment of an independent human rights commission to promote and protect human rights. Similar arguments of principle apply to the case for an independent champion of children's rights.
The Government is rightly concerned to be sure that a commissioner would not duplicate existing mechanisms for the protection of children and the promotion of their welfare, but would add value to these, and make a real difference to the lives of children in England.
We conclude that a commissioner could meet these objectives. A commissioner could encourage more and better listening to children, be a champion for children's interests at the national level of decision­making, help children assert their rights in a positive and constructive way, and help create a culture of respect for the fundamental principles of the UNCRC where it most mattered—within the public bodies responsible for looking after children.
We recommend the establishment of a children's commissioner for England. A children's commissioner is not a substitute for government mechanisms, not a replacement for NGOs, advisory services and charities, and will not have power to usurp parents. A children's commissioner is not the answer to all the problems children face but it can be a channel through which the voice of children can be heard more clearly. An independent human rights institution for children is, we believe, a necessary catalyst for change, not a sufficient excuse for others to neglect their responsibilities to respect and advance the rights of the child.

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