Child Human Rights Defenders


Implementation Guide

6. Conclusion

The activities and rights of CHRDs have been, for the most part, ignored and marginalized by States, the public and national and international human rights and civil society organizations. Children have not been waiting for this recognition. Many children across the world have been acting to promote and protect human rights, shaping and defining understanding of human rights norms and implementation. CHRDs have been getting on with their work, even though their own rights as HRDs have not been understood and/or accepted. Child specific and HRDs specific organizations, programmes and guidance have, until recently, failed to acknowledge or address the distinct rights and needs of children who act as HRDs. There has also been limited recognition of the fact that CHRDs are not a homogenous group and that the challenges faced by them are often compounded when they are girls, have a disability or are from an ethnic minority or indigenous community. 

This Implementation Guide aims to fill this gap. It identifies what is distinctive about CHRDs themselves, the contexts in which they act and the rights to which they are entitled. From this analysis, it has emerged that the rights of children who act as HRDs are not well known or understood. In particular, it is apparent that children’s exercise of their civil and political rights, crucial for all HRDs, is often limited in circumstances where the reasons for restrictions are not transparent and where children are not involved in the decision-making and/or do not receive information justifying or explaining them. Moreover, there is a misconception that CHRDs’ civil and political rights can be outweighed by their other rights such as the right to education or to be protected from harm. The latter in particular is often equated with the best interests principle, with the effect that children are prohibited from acting.  This Guide emphasizes that it is also in children’s best interests to be enabled to exercise their civil and political rights and that the obligation is on States to ensure that they can do so safely. Prohibiting children from acting as CHRDs should not be the default position when there are adult concerns about children’s activity. While the obligation to protect CHRDs from harm is immediate and crucial, it should not be implemented at the expense of children’s enjoyment of their full range of human rights.

The Implementation Guide provides recommendations for States, parents/ guardians, schools and other public service providers as well as national and international human rights organizations. In all cases, the intention is to support them and CHRDs to understand the rights that children should enjoy and to work with children to ensure that they are implemented in ways that are not just effective but understood and supported by CHRDs. The consultations on the Guide have highlighted the need for practical guidance to be developed based on the Guide, in particular around the following areas: restrictions on rights, policing protests, online activity, participation in public life, enabling CHRDs through education, promoting permissive and protective parenting, child-sensitive responses by protection mechanisms, girl CHRDs, CHRDs with disabilities, and other groups of CHRDs in vulnerable situations. This is key to further advance the understanding of what should be done in practice. CHRDs will play a key role in developing this practical guidance.


Table of Contents



Child Human Rights Defender


Convention on the Rights of the Child


Children’s Rights Impact Assessment


Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Human Rights Defender


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights


National Human Rights Institution


Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights


Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure


Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe


Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children 


Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

The Committee

Committee on the Rights of the Child 

The Declaration or DHRD

The United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The Special Rapporteur

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders


United Nations