Why we need childrens rights indicators

The event supported by Eurochild and organised by the National Coalition Germany focused on the need of indicators to measure children's rights.

Poto: Katrin Neuhauser

What are child rights indicators? What do they measure? What experiences did other countries have with child rights indicators? On 21 June 2017, experts discussed in Berlin what indicators could measure and the responsibility of the state to document the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 2017, the annual topic of the National Coalition Germany referred to the recommendation of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that urged Germany in 2014 “to establish a comprehensive and integrated system to collect data on children covering all Länder and the entire period of childhood up to the age of 18, and to introduce indicators on children’s rights which could be used to analyse and assess progress in the realization of those rights.”

The National Coalition published a list of reports, studies and surveys by the government that are being used by the members of the coalition, available in German. In addition, the National Coalition collected 100 questions by members regarding the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. If answers to these questions were available, realization of children´s rights could be documented in a more comprehensive way. Some of these questions were:

  • What data is being used by researchers and policymakers? (art. 4 protection of rights)
  • Do all child get registered at birth? (art. 7 birth registration)
  • How do children participate in court proceedings? (art. 12 right to be heard)
  • How many children are involved in activities for the protection of human rights? (art. 15 freedom of association)
  • Are children being deported? (art. 22 refugee children)

What gets measured gets done

Why are children´s rights indicators useful? The Belgian example shows that children´s rights indicators are not only doable but also useful for the state reporting process. They simplify the reporting procedure by providing a structure and showing progress. Karen Van Laethem and Catherine Péters from the Belgian National Commission on the Rights of the Child emphasized how the development of indicators had been helpful in determining what data was missing and what questions remained unanswered.

Another example is the Child Protection Index. The index has been used in nine states in Southeastern Europe and supports the monitoring of the deinstitutionalisation process. Andy Guth (Child Pact) underlined the crucial role of civil society in monitoring with indicators.

Geert Jorgensen (Eurochild) presented the tracking progress tool, which should monitor the implementation ot the UN Guidelines on Alternative Care, but which has not yet been published. “It is especially important to look where things are not going well, otherwise we only cement the status quo” Jorgensen said.

Indicators in Germany

Both government and civil society would benefit from an indicator-based report on the implementation of children´s rights in Germany, said Judit Costa from the German National Coalition. The impact of measures taken by the government could monitored and civil society organizations could plan their activities based on solid facts.

Young people would also like to use data to specifically advocate for the realization of their rights, said Carl Guttmann, a young man from the Kinderbüro Freiburg. He presented a pilot project that children and youth had planned to survey their peers. Verena Todeskino from PROSOZ Institut für Sozialforschung demonstrated how measurable changes could be documented over time using indicators. Dr. Christian Alt gave a glimpse of the wide variety of research topics of the Deutsches Jugendinstitut and explained in which cases research using surveys would be useful. Referring to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Dr. Britta Leisering from the German Institute for Human Rights stressed the importance of indicators representing the normative content of each article of the Convention.

Step by Step

Anja Teltschik from UNICEF welcomed the initiative of the German National Coalition for the development of children´s rights indicators that in her view are needed in Germany. Civil society networks could prioritize issues, provide a reality-check and support participation of children and youth. Be it in the development of indicators or the UN reporting procedure, the National Coalition would remain a watchdog for the implementation of children´s rights in Germany.

A more detailed documentation of the results will be made available on www.kinderrechte-indikatoren.de in the coming weeks.