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Children’s views should be heard whenever decisions affecting their lives are made

Children from the UK, Ireland and France addressing the PACE debate on children's participation in democracy, January 2022

Governments and parliaments should ensure that children’s views are taken into account “whenever decisions affecting their lives are made and put into practice”, the Parliamentary Assembly stated.

Adopting a resolution and recommendation based on a report by Baroness Doreen E. Massey (United Kingdom, SOC), the parliamentarians 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 Assembly 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. 

Three children took part in the debate and addressed the parliamentarians. Among them, Orna, from Ireland, stressed that the Council of Europe will gain a new perspective on how its actions affect children while laying the foundations for an inclusive, progressive and sustainable future. "We, the children, can become the 48th voice of the Council of Europe," she said.