It is time for governments and parliaments to ensure that children’s views are taken into account “whenever decisions affecting their lives are made”, a PACE committee has declared.
The Assembly’s Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, approving a draft resolution and recommendation based on a report by Baroness Doreen E. Massey (United Kingdom, SOC), set out a series of recommendations for achieving this aim – and pledged to put child participation into practice in its own work.
“Children are knowledgeable, resourceful, enthusiastic, daring, and creative. Listening to children can help us make our societies a better place for everyone,” the committee pointed out. “While climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent social crisis are putting children’s future at risk, decisions on these issues continue to be made with little or no regard to children’s concerns.”
The parliamentarians urged training and capacity-building on child participation for all professionals dealing with children, as well parliamentarians and government officials, and extra support for local authorities and NGOs.
States should consider lowering the voting age to 16, and work with the Council of Europe, the EU and the UN to expand child participation, they said.
For its own part, the Assembly said it would consult children whenever it prepared reports concerning them, for example through written consultations, participation in hearings, focus groups or parliamentary networks. Child representatives could also be invited to take the floor in plenary debates of the Assembly.
The report is due to be debated by the plenary Assembly, bringing together MPs from 47 European nations, in January.