Last week Child Rights Connect was invited to participate in a breakfast seminar with States and civil society organized by the Permanente Mission of Ireland. The seminar was an opportunity to examine recent experiences attempting to improve child and youth engagement at the UN Human Rights Council from the perspective of civil society, States and Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates.

Ilaria Paolazzi, Programme Manager at Child Rights Connect, in her intervention, drew everyone’s attention to the specific and practical challenges faced by children to access the Human Rights Council due to the lack of a framework for child participation. She encouraged States to continue to push for different forms of child participation at the Council, even if these could seem tokenistic, instead of not involving children at all. “What children’s feedback show is that even tokenistic participation can be an empowering experience for children, as long as it involves learning and follow-up” emphasised Ilaria Paolazzi during the meeting.

She recommended the establishment of a group of like-minded States who could discuss with children and youth the development of a comprehensive framework for child participation at the Council, building on past experiences. This recommendation was echoed by Plan International and welcomed by those present at the event.

State representatives present at the meeting shared their experiences in bringing youth delegates to the Council and Ireland’s UN Youth Delegates shared encouraging examples of their UN engagement and recommended the empowerment of children from a young age to engage in the UN.

This event took place the same week of the “Stock-tacking Event on Civil Society Space”, requested by the 2018 Council’s resolution on civil society space, with the objective to identify progress made in better supporting civil society participation within the multilateral framework. Child Rights Connect participated in this event to remind States to proactively reach out to underrepresented parts of civil society, including children and young people, with a view to ensuring the diversity of civil society participation. This was one of the key recommendations that the DGD Children’s Advisory Team shared with the core group of States leading on the resolution.