Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) can be used by many actors in many fields of work – wherever and whenever children may be affected by their decisions. CRIA is of particular relevance for government decision-making, because governments have the primary duty to protect and fulfill children’s rights as well as the authority to make legal, policy, budgetary and service related decisions that affect children’s lives. Governments (at all levels) and public authorities share this duty, but responsibility to give primary consideration to the best interests of children in all actions is shared broadly (article 3, Convention on the Rights of the Child). CRIA provides a systematic process to fulfill the duty to consider the rights and interests of children in decision-making.

Source: UNICEF Canada

CRIA was first established by the Flemish Parliament in Belgium in 1997. It is practiced in a growing number of places including Canada, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, Wales, Australia, USA and England (see partial list).

The approaches to CRIA in different contexts share many common elements, and also vary in important ways:

  • Governments at various levels (federal/national, provincial/state and local) use CRIA. In only a few countries such as Sweden is it generally practiced by all levels of government.
  • Different jurisdictions have different requirements for the types of decisions to which CRIA will be applied. Some take a more precautionary approach and apply CRIA to a range of policy, legislation, budget and program decisions, and to any decision that may affect children. Others take a more limited approach and apply CRIA only to decisions directly affecting children and where significant impacts are likely, and in some cases only in particular government departments. There is considerable argument for a broader approach, particularly given the potential to overlook children as stakeholders and given the broad range of potential impacts on children.
  • In some contexts, CRIA is part of broader social or human rights impact assessment. It is mandated in different ways – ideally through legislation, a children’s strategy or a government directive.
  • In most instances, policy developers in the executive branch undertake the analysis, and elected representatives may have a role – particularly where their legal duty of “due regard” to children’s human rights is established. In some jurisdictions, Children’s Commissioners and other organizations employ CRIA to assess their own organizational decisions or to advocate with governments, although this is not usually done in a systematic way, and there is usually not a corollary responsibility for governments to engage in the process.

Decision-making affecting children in many contexts including school, health and child welfare authorities and private enterprises (through the Child Rights Principles for Business) could benefit from CRIA.

Share the ways you or others are using CRIA in the Community Forum.