Realising Rights? The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Court

This report by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) draws out the ways the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has been used around the world to challenge abuses of children’s rights, but also where it has been misunderstood and misapplied by national courts. It addresses the use of the Convention in general, and features more detailed analysis of three of the most cited rights under the Convention and the divergent ways they have been applied and interpreted: (1) Best interests of the child, (2) Right to be heard, and (3) Deprivation of liberty.

The report includes examples of court cases around the world in which the CRC has been invoked, including in cases of child abuse, intercountry and domestic adoption, and deportation of parents that would result in family separation. The report also presents data on how often the CRC was cited in national court cases, how often individual articles were referenced, how often and in what ways the articles were applied incorrectly, the number of cases in which the decision was found to be compatible with the CRC, and other data. The report concludes by noting the "growing recognition of [the CRC's] legal value and its rights and principles are increasingly permeating national legal systems" and acknowledging that children are still "too often sidelined" and are not at the heart of the case as they should be. 

There is no doubt that there is a long way to go. Children are too often seen as objects of protection, rather than subjects of rights. But if the Convention is used as the legal tool it is meant to be, it can be the instrument that makes children’s rights a reality.