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The Implementation and Enforcement of Human Rights: CYC

3321 words (13 pages) Essay in Human Rights

08/02/20 Human Rights Reference this

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Abstract

This papers primary focus will be on the enforcement of children’s rights in Canada, and how implementation can be supported by the Child and Youth Care (CYC) practitioner. Marta Santos Pais (1999), a global advocate for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children, believes that universal human rights form the basis for a world built on freedom, justice and peace. More so she believes that awareness and the realization of human rights is fundamental to the practice of self-advocacy. Developing a general awareness and understanding about human rights is critical to making human rights relevant to children. There is a responsibility to protect and promote universal respect for, and observance of, these rights. This requires all of us (who work with children and youth) to commit to the implementation of rights, and to utilize our daily practice as a platform to educate and advocate where all people benefit from having rights, including children.

Keywords: children’s rights, human rights, implementation

The Implementation and Enforcement of Human Rights: CYC

Particular to Canada, for absolute implementation and enforcement of child-rights requires the Department of Justice and Parliament of Canada needs to adopt legislation to make the Convention Rights of the Child (CRC) apart of Canadian law. Although Canada utilizes the Human Rights Act and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the absence of clear legal status for the rights of children contributes towards inequities and gaps in implementation of the CRC. National legal recognition of the CRC would also provide a framework that responds to the violation of rights that affect children under provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Lastly, efforts should be made to root child rights in early childhood curriculums so that children have the capacity to realize their rights. With new legislation, networks, and mechanisms in place, practitioners such as CYC’s will have a solid foundation to implement the CRC in their daily practice and maintain the rights of the child.

Limitations of Current Legal Protection for Children’s Rights

Canada ratified the Convention in 1991. The realization of the human rights of children, as articulated in the CRC, is complicated by the role of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canadian Human Rights Act. The regulation of the Canadian Charter of Rights is divided between federal, provincial, and territorial governments.  The CRC also exists within the same parameters and experiences the same tensions between governments. Not all provinces and territories in Canada offer the same human rights protections- some have unique or unusual protected grounds, and ways of interpreting their human rights codes (Chun and Gallagher-Louisy, 2018). These differences cause jurisdictional disputes and complicate – or in some cases, trump human rights-claims.

The CRC recognizes that while the national government leads in public accountability, provincial jurisdiction and lack of legal clarity for children’s rights leads to inconsistent implementation. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has made several recommendations on how Canada can strengthen its legal and institutional provisions, and build a protective and rights-based framework that allows for all children to fully realize their rights.

Despite the ratification, the CRC has never been implemented into Canadian law. It is recommended that Canada pass enabling legislation to make child rights a part of Canadian law, which would reduce the space for jurisdictional disputes, and hold all provinces and territories equally accountable for any child-rights violations. Canada must appoint an independent National Commissioner for Children and Youth to prioritize children on the political agenda and recognize the rights of children. Identifying a children’s budget that is guided by the best interest of children and youth, would assist in reaching visibility of all children. Vulnerable children experiencing human rights violations in Canada include “children with disabilities (including mental health), children in alternative care, ethnic minority children, LBGQT children, refugee/immigrant children, and children in the youth justice system,” (Turpel-Lafond, 2012). Canada needs to recognize the importance of investing in child/youth community programs that provide much-needed opportunities to priority neighbourhoods and focus on the root causes of social inequality. In a recent example, The Ontario government revoked a $500,000 grant promised to Toronto at-risk youth program Sistema Toronto. Bhutila Karpoche, NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park proclaimed that:

Everybody knows the root cause of violence is things like poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of affordable housing and programs for kids, she said, calling the decision to cut this funding a “backward action” […] Instead of investing more in these preventative programs, if we start cutting them, then we’re going to see it impacting the youth, which would likely lead to increase in them getting involved in violence. (Ngabo, 2018)

In 2003, the Childs budget was amongst the rejected or ignored recommendations listed in the UNCRC’s report from Canada. Program amounts were not being reported with any analysis, nor were any CIA’s completed to ensure there was transparency in allocation of resources that affected children (Wolff, Collins & Vandergrift, 2010).

Lastly the UNCRC recommends that Canada monitor the implementation of the Convention by introducing regular reports which involve children and youth as active participants in its development (Pearson, C & Collins, 2009). With these recommendations implemented, sustainable attention to children’s rights can be prioritized on a National level.

Violation of rights in Canada

Article 28 and 29 of the CRC is about the purpose of school education. The most recognized function of early education is to provide opportunities for children to acquire basic competencies in academics. However less frequently discussed, but with equal importance, the true “aim of education is to promote personal development, strengthen respect for human rights and freedoms, enable individuals to participate effectively in a free society, and promote understanding, friendship and tolerance,” (UNICEF, 2007, p. 7). Thus, the education system has a significant impact on the development of children both academically and societally.

The provision of education under the UNCRC is to include general education with guided principals of the Convention: non-discrimination (article 2), best interests (article 3), survival and development (article 6), and participation (article 12). It’s with these provisions that children are recognized as active participants in their own learning and education. The publication of Thomas Hammarberg also supports the Conventions approach to a child-centered education policy. It’s with the key principals adapted from the CRC that educational systems would adopt a more holistic, child-centered framework, in which should educate the child with understanding of “peace, tolerance, equality, and respect for all ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin,” (Hammarberg, 1997). His main argument is that many educational systems objectify the child as a figure that can simply be stuffed with facts, and numeric, where as they should be encouraging social competencies, and development. He argues that Canada’s educational systems do not yet reflect the practice of the Convention, and are in fact are missing its importance, (Hammarberg, 1997). 

 As CYC’s continue to work with children and make decisions which affect children, their best interest should be a primary consideration. Often, children’s interests go ignored or assumptions are made on behalf of them in decision making. A rights-based approach has been elected by the CRC to ensure that policymaking takes potential impacts on children and their rights sufficiently into account. The Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) is mostly utilized within government policy-making; however they can also be useful for advocacy. Significant effort has gone into developing CRIA templates that would act as a guide for users and hold duty bearers, such as governments, accountable for their obligations to children, (Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, 2007).

The Senate Committee observed in 2007 that so few people understands the UNCRC; it rarely filters down to protect the most vulnerable and marginalized groups such as “aboriginal children, children with disabilities, abused and neglected children, street children, justice involved children, refugee and asylum-seeking children,” (Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, 2007). The UN Committee more so saw that amongst adults there is very little knowledge about the Convention outside of advocacy circles, and legislative bodies at all. It was reported by the Committee that “in government, even among those dedicated to protecting children’s rights, knowledge of the nearly 20- year-old Convention is spotty at best” (Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, 2007, p. 195), suggesting that, if adults, care-givers and teachers alike, do not understand the implications of the CRC, it is most unlikely that the rights of the Convention will be realized by many children either.

Article 42 proclaims that governments should make the Convention known to children, and adults should help children understand their rights also (OHCHR, 2001).  In such case, Child Rights should be mandated into the Canadian Educational Curriculum on a National scale. Every child should have access to simplified literature that explains the rights of the child. UNICEFF has created a powerful animation tool for informing children about their rights through “Cartoons for Children’s Right” and can be used for early intervention across all school boards. This animation cartoon has already been broadcasted in “160 countries to an estimated audience of more than one billion people,” QUOTE https://www.unicef.org/crcartoons/. The empowerment fostered by rights-based education and consultation among children enables young people to exercise their rights, and therefore to recognize their own capacities to think and act assertively and proactively in the protection of their rights

Conculsion::::::

CYC’s can begin to use CRI’s and start asking themselves critical questions that defend rights such as “does the school promote tolerance and understanding of children who are different?  Does it give the children tools to oppose xenophobia and other negative attitudes in society?” (Hammarberg, 1997).

Child and Youth Care practitioners must deliberate how children rights connect to their professional practice. CYC’s must see the relevance child-rights have on the therapeutic rapport they explore with children and youth.

Use the Convention as a framework for determining the ‘best interest of the child’ in court and case management processes that involve children, including human rights commissions and tribunals. https://rcybc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/reports_publications/20120801_submissionforrightsofchildcourse.pdf)

This requires of all of us who are serious about the implementation of rights that we work in our daily practice towards a position where all people and not only the privileged few, benefit from having rights. We should work towards building mechanisms and networks to promote and monitor implementation and to respond to rights violations. This is part of our culture of accountability — both of civil society, and of the state which has its own particular obligations as a rights duty bearer.

Responsibility to protect and promote universal respect for, and observance of, these rights in their individual and joint action. Thus, human rights must inform both national policies and international cooperation. At the same time, civil society is a critical partner in the design and implementation of these policies, and plays a decisive public scrutiny role.

Developing a general awareness and understanding about human rights is critical to making human rights relevant to children. Human rights education, access to education, and advocacy has complementary relationships necessary to that objective. Within Canada, however, evidence suggests that improvements are required. There is also a need to evaluate, from a human rights perspective, accessibility to education for Aboriginal children, children with disabilities, refugee/immigrant children and other groups of children who may be denied educational opportunities due to their special circumstances. Page 29

Lastly, Child Rights should be mandated into the curriculum as a course to be taught in all early education establishments. Article 42 proclaims that governments should make the Convention known to children, and adults should help children understand their rights also (OHCHR, 2001).  Every child should have access to simplified literature that explains the rights of the child. The child should also be informed on their rights that pertain to their cultural/religious/gender identity (non-discrimination policies), their right to be educated in a violence-free environment (anti-bullying policies), and policies surrounding LGBTQ2, mental health, and disabilities rights.

Page 27 https://rcybc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/reports_publications/20120801_submissionforrightsofchildcourse.pdf  The UN Committee’s General Comment No. 5 provides guidance on human rights education. If adults around children, their parents and other family members, teachers and carers do not understand the implications of the Convention, and above all its confirmation of the equal status of children as subjects of rights, it is most unlikely that the rights set out in the Convention will be realized by many children. (UN Committee, General Comment No. 5, Para. 66). In Canada, there is evidence that children and adults lack adequate awareness and understanding about human rights.

Page 31 In Canada, children’s rights advocates have observed in their recent alternative reports to the UN Committee that governments, as duty bearers, need to adopt rights-based approaches, complemented by child rights impact assessments (see CCCYA, 2011; Canadian Coalition on the Rights of the Child, 2011) as a method for holding duty bearers accountable for their obligations to children. These assessments can reveal the nature of the duty bearer and rights holder relationship, highlighting areas for improvement in duty bearer accountability and rights holder empowerment. Making human rights relevant to children necessitates rights-based approach to legislation, policies and practices. The extent of human rights violations tells us that human rights-based approaches are required in Canada.

Yet some children suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases and unequal access to good quality education, protection and justice systems. The standards and principles articulated in the Convention can only become a reality when they are respected by everyone—within the family, in schools and other institutions that provide services for children, in communities and at all levels of government. https://www.unicef.ca/en/policy-advocacy-for-children/about-the-convention-on-the-rights-of-the-child

http://www.unicef.ca/sites/default/files/imce_uploads/report_from_cria_symposium_may2013_canada.pdf

Currently, do Canadian Children know who to go to for support if they feel they have been discriminated against or have had their rights violated? Talk about reconciliation (NATIVE) https://rcybc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/reports_publications/20120801_submissionforrightsofchildcourse.pdf  specifically

Yet some children suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases and unequal access to good quality education, protection and justice systems.

Violations must be taken seriously – there needs to be an established standard of accountability for parties which violate the act.

“The education to which every child has a right is one designed to provide the child with life skills, to strengthen the child’s capacity to enjoy the full range of human rights and to promote a culture which is infused by appropriate human rights values” (OHCHR, 2001)

Networks and mechanisms are constructed to promote and monitor implementation, so that not only the privileged can benefit from having right, but all bodies can.

My concern is that, if we cannot adequately and appropriately respond to the violation of rights, we are limited in our enforcement of rights. This creates the impression amongst rights holders that violations are not taken seriously and are not responded to.

Making human rights relevant to children necessitates rights-based approach to legislation, policies and practices.

This requires of all of us who are serious about the implementation of rights that we work in our daily practice towards a position where all people and not only the privileged few, benefit from having rights. We should work towards building mechanisms and networks to promote and monitor implementation and to respond to rights violations. This is part of our culture of accountability — both of civil society, and of the state which has its own particular obligations as a rights duty bearer.

Responsibility to protect and promote universal respect for, and observance of, these rights in their individual and joint action. Thus, human rights must inform both national policies and international cooperation. At the same time, civil society is a critical partner in the design and implementation of these policies, and plays a decisive public scrutiny role.

The South African Constitution sets out certain institutions that should be created for the support of Constitutional Democracy, which include:

  • The Public protector
  • The Human Rights Commission
  • The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.
  • The Commission on Gender Equality
  • The Auditor General
  • The Electoral Commission
  • The Independent Authority to Regulate Broadcasting

In addition, the Independent Complaints Directorate, Office on the Status of Disabled Persons, and Office on the Rights of the Child have also been introduced in the governance structures.

Responding to violations

References

  • OHCHR | General Comment No. 1: The Aims of Education (article 29) (2001). (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2018, from https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/Training/Compilation/Pages/a)GeneralCommentNo1TheAimsofEducation(article29)(2001).aspx
  • Child Rights Impact Assessment: A Tool to Focus on Children. (2013). In Symposium on Child Rights Impact Assessment (pp. 5-6). Ottawa, Canada. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.ca/sites/default/files/imce_uploads/report_from_cria_symposium_may2013_canada.pdf
  • Hammarberg, T. (1997). A School for Children with Rights [Ebook] (pp. 7-28). Florence: Italy. Retrieved from https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/il2e.pdf
  • Final Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (2007). Children: The Silenced Citizens. Effective Implementation of Canada’s International Obligations with Respect to the Rights of Children. Senate Committee on Human Rights. Retrieved fromhttp://www.canadiancrc.com/PDFs/Canadian_Senate_Report_Chil dren_Silenced_Citizens_10APR07-e.pdf
  • Chun, J., & Gallagher-Louisy, C. (2018). Overview of Human Rights Codes by Province and Territory in Canada [Ebook] (p. 4). Retrieved from https://ccdi.ca/media/1414/20171102-publications-overview-of-hr-codes-by-province-final-en.pdf
  • Ngabo, G. (2018). Ontario pulls $500,000 grant promised to Toronto at-risk youth program | The Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/08/23/ontario-pulls-500000-grant-promised-to-toronto-at-risk-youth-program.html
  • Pais, M. (1999). A HUMAN RIGHTS CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR UNICEF [Ebook] (p. 1). Florence: UNICEF innocenti Research Centre. Retrieved from https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/essay9.pdf
  • Pearson, L., C, O., & Collins, T. (2009). Not There Yet Canada’s implementation of the general measures of the Convention on the Rights of the Child [Ebook] (pp. 9-10). Florence: UNICEF innocenti Research Centre. Retrieved from https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/canada_nty.pdf
  • Turpel-Lafond, M. (2012). Making Human Rights Relevant to Children [Ebook] (p. 16). Moncton: Representative for Children and Youth. Retrieved from https://rcybc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/reports_publications/20120801_submissionforrightsofchildcourse.pdf
  • Wolff, L., Collins, T., & Vandergrift, K. (2010). Implementing All Children’s Rights in Canada [Ebook] (pp. 20-21). Retrieved from http://rightsofchildren.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Implementing-All-Childrens-Rights-in-Canada.pdf
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