The United Nations Committee which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child has welcomed children campaigning on climate change, and stressed they have a legal right “to have their views listened to and taken into account.”
“The children have told us that they see the future of the planet as one of the major issues facing them,” said the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Luis Pedernera. “Children are already negatively impacted by pollution, droughts, other natural disasters, health risks, and degradation of ecosystems, and we welcome the passionate engagement of children in relation to these issues.”
Saying it was “inspired by the millions of children and adolescents who marched for climate change,” the Committee – which has regularly addressed the environment, climate change, and the degradation of the planet – welcomed “the active and meaningful participation of children, as human rights defenders, in relation to issues of concern to them along with everyone else.”
According to article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – which has been ratified by every State except one – children must be at the centre of the discourse on climate change and their opinion should be listened to and taken into account. “As the beneficiaries of today’s decisions they have a central role to play,” the Committee said.
The Committee further stressed that the Convention gives children the right to freedom of expression. As a result, “any threat or abuse of children for their oral or written expression is unacceptable. Children must be free to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and they should be safe when doing so.”
During this 30th anniversary of the Convention, the Committee called for children to be embraced as active participants and owners of decisions being made that will impact on their future well-being. All children around the world should benefit from the same protection of their rights. “In this regard,” the Committee said, “we call on the United States of America to ratify the Convention to ensure universal ratification.”
“Children are the most affected by the actions or inaction of leaders today,” the Committee added.
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