Pioneering consultation events: the voices of hundreds of street-connected children worldwide heard by the UN

The voices of hundreds of street-connected children around the world have been heard by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, thanks to the unique consultations with children organised in February to April 2016 by Consortium for Street Children.

This was a unique opportunity for street-connected children to be heard at UN level and to influence the development of the UN Committee’s forthcoming General Comment on children in street situations, which, when it is finalised, will be the key piece of international guidance for governments on street children’s rights.

CSC brought together 370 street-connected children from 32 different countries to take part in 7 consultation events around the world. Organised by CSC and partners, and sponsored by Baker & Mckenzie and partners, the consultations took place in Brazil (with partner Street Child United and sponsor Merck), India (partner Plan India, sponsor Cargill), Belgium (partner Dynamo International, sponsor Salesforce), Mexico (partner REDIM, sponsor Regeneron), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Zimbabwe (partner Streetinvest).

Together with representatives from 69 different NGOs, the children took part in games and workshops to share their stories of life on the street. They discussed the questions contained in the official call for submissions published by the UN Committee and put forward their own recommendations to governments.

Their testimonies form the basis of five reports submitted to the UN Committee: Brazil (multi-country); South Asia; Africa; Central America; Europe . The reports were prepared by CSC and partners, with contributions of background information from 84 pro bono researchers and lawyers from Baker & McKenzie and partners. They will be used by the UN Committee to develop its General Comment on children in street situations.

CSC, Coordinator of the Advisory Group to the UN Committee’s Working Group on the General Comment, is proud to have brought together its global network to make street-connected children’s voices heard in the process of developing the General Comment. Regularly perceived as a hard-to-reach group, street children are often ignored by society at large and overlooked in policy agendas. Yet by organising the consultation events, and providing children-friendly materials and a guide to consulting with children for NGOs making submissions to the General Comment, CSC has ensured that many hundreds of street-connected children’s views will feed into the General Comment. This represents the largest number of children ever to have been consulted in person in the development of a General Comment.