Child Human Rights Defenders


Implementation Guide

5.1. Law and Policy

(Art. 3, 9 DHRD) 


DHRD Article 3

Domestic law consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and other international obligations of the States in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms is the juridical framework within which human rights and fundamental freedoms should be implemented and enjoyed and within which all activities referred to in the present Declaration for the promotion, protection and effective realization of those rights and freedoms should be conducted.

Article 3 of the Declaration supplements Article 4 of the CRC by reasserting the need for domestic laws to be consistent with the State’s international obligations. States that have incorporated the CRC into domestic law tend to have greater respect for children’s rights generally and  that provides an environment that is more conducive for CHRDs.1 While there is no one right way to do this, States should take measures to ensure that domestic law is consistent with the CRC and the Declaration. This might take the form of a comprehensive law on HRDs that incorporates children’s rights (throughout or in a separate sections) and/or ensuring children’s rights are integrated into relevant sectoral laws. Whichever approach is adopted, domestic law must comply with the State’s obligations to children under the CRC. DGD2018 recommended that: 


States develop and adopt comprehensive national laws and policies on protection and empowerment of HRDs that integrate a gender and age sensitive approach with special attention to children in situations of risk.


States should ensure that the national legal framework complies with the CRC and allows children to act freely as HRDs (so should comply with the Declaration). 


National legislation should be built upon and include the views of CHRDs.


States should ensure the effective implementation of legislation and policies for CHRDs, by allocating the necessary human, technical and financial resources. 2 



Laws and Policies for CHRDs: Suggested Minimum Elements

All national laws and policies relevant to the rights of CHRDs, consistent with international obligations, should have the following features:

  • No minimum age;
  • Applies to all children;
  • Best interests are a primary consideration;
  • Includes a right to be heard;
  • Parents/guardians’ rights and duties included;
  • Provision of age-appropriate support to CHRDs and their parents/legal guardians;   
  • Provision of heightened protection for all HRDs under 18, and children in situations of risk; 
  • Age-sensitive procedures for reporting and redress mechanisms;  
  • CHRDs are consulted during the drafting process.

5.1.1. Children’s Rights Impact Assessments

The Committee has recommended that all States should adopt Children’s Rights Impact Assessments (CRIAs) and should do so ‘in a way which further promotes the visible integration of children in policy-making and sensitivity to their rights.’3 While policy impact assessments or proofing on issues such as gender, the environment, health, and across equality are now relatively common, children and their rights can become lost in these processes.4 This is evidenced by the fact that, at the time of writing, all the existing laws and policies specific to HRDs are adult-centred and addressing the rights of CHRDs in a limited manner or not at all. CRIAs encourage decision-makers to put a specific gaze on children and their rights and to identify any disproportionate impact on children.

CRIAs provide a mechanism for highlighting the particular impact on the rights of CHRDs in laws and policies that are not specific to children. The CRIA process should also involve children and provide an opportunity for CHRDs (a) to impact law and policy and (b) to identify issues that may adversely impact on children’s capacity to act as HRDs.


1 Lundy, L., Kilkelly, U., Byrne, B., & Kang, J. (2012) The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: A study of legal implementation in 12 countries. Retrieved 13 Oct 2020, from: https://
2 United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (2018) 2018 Day of General Discussion Outcomes Report: Protecting and Empowering Children as Human Rights Defenders, p. 32.
3 United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003) General Comment No. 5 (2003) on General measures of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6), CRC/GC/2003/5, para. 47.
4 Byrne, B. & Lundy, L. (2019) Children’s rights-based childhood policy: a six-P framework, pp. 357-373. Retrieved 27 Nov 2020, from:

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