Minimum Standards for Consulting with Children
The Interagency Working Group on Children's Participation in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, consisting of ECPAT International, Knowing Children, Plan International, Save the Children Sweden and
The minimum standards have been developed through six years of practice by the multi-agency group, starting with evaluation of children’s involvement in international consultations, the initial drafting and piloting of the standards at the East Asia and Pacific Regional Consultation concerning the United Nations Study on Violence Against Children, in 2005, and a number of other formal consultations with children in different parts of the world.
What are minimum standards?
Minimum standards are statements of the lowest acceptable level of practice by both adults and children to ensure meaningful children’s participation in a formal consultation or conference. Minimum standards ‘draw a line’, stating what is and is not acceptable for children’s participation.
In general, minimum standards need to be:
Adhered to: They should have monitoring mechanisms and sanctions if they are not all met;
Non-negotiable: They draw a line to show what is acceptable or not acceptable;
Transparent: Clear criteria for each standard give details of the steps an agency needs to take;
Permanent: They are fixed and followed consistently and constantly;
Agreed upon: One organization or group is accountable for them (the organizing committee) and key implementing agencies for the standards (local partners) understand and agree on them.
The Minimum Standards are based on five principles:
- Transparency, honesty and accountability
- A children-friendly environment
- Equality of opportunity
- Safety and protection of children
- Commitment and competency of adults
The Interagency group has its own website where more of its publications on children's participation can be downloaded: iawgcp.com
Print copies of the minimum standards can be obtained from:
Asia Regional Office
18th floor, Ocean Tower 2 Building
75/24 Sukhumvit 19 Road
Klongtoey Nua, Wattana
Bangkok 10110 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)2 204 2630-4
Fax: +66 (0)2 204 2629
From the introduction of the minimum standards:
Since the 1990 World Summit for Children in
Children’s participation in international meetings and conferences is limited by adult control over:
■ The resources required for children to attend;
■ The topics of discussion;
■ The agenda and procedures of the meeting;
■ The selection process;
■ The topics on which children are asked to give their opinions.
In Seen and Heard, a 2004 research assessment on the participation of children from the
- selection processes were not always transparent or representative;
- some adults had negative or paternalistic attitudes towards children;
- children were not adequately protected from potential threats to their health and well-being or from abuse and exploitation;
- children were inadequately prepared for their roles in the forums;
- the events lacked follow up.
The full text of the research assessment can be downloaded here.
NOTE: Inviting children to participate in formal conferences is only one option for consulting with children. There are many valid alternatives. Experience shows that participatory activities with children at the local level, close to where children live, encounter fewer constraints (and may often be the preferred option) compared to formal events. Formal conferences or consultations are more effective when based on a process of local activities with children.