Child-Friendly Laws and Policies

Enacting child-friendly laws and policies. Assessing the impact of these on children.

Local authorities must ensure that all aspects of the legal and policy frameworks, which are under their control, protect and promote children’s rights.

The ability to influence the legal and policy frameworks will depend on the degree of autonomy the local government has in a given policy area. For example, a local government may have autonomy in the area of education but not in health, or may have autonomy over pre-schools but not secondary schools.

In areas where it has no direct control over laws and policies, the local government may still have some flexibility in the way it interprets and implements these. In instances where it has no control over implementation, it can still assess the impact of laws and policies on child rights locally and use the evidence to advocate on behalf of children at the regional and national level.

Laws and policies need to be assessed before, during and after implementation for their impact on children to ensure that they take the best interests of the child into consideration as required by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. This involves the engagement of government, as well as independent experts and children and youth themselves.

Country examples
Inclusion does not necessarily imply endorsement by UNICEF.

The National Equality Act in Finland emphasizes the importance of children’s experiences and definitions of discrimination as the starting point for the advancement of non-discrimination. Municipalities that wish to develop a child-friendly city or community are given a checklist to complete to address possible areas of discrimination including, among others, age, origin, nationality, language, skin colour, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, political or other opinions, wealth, health, disability, place of residence.
Download Finland CFCI case study [PDF].

Indonesia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990 through presidential decree and has passed three acts since 2002 on child protection including Act No. 35 in 2014 which mandated the development of child-friendly cities. It defines a ‘Child-Friendly District/City’ as one that has a child rights development system that integrates commitment and resources through policies, programmes, and activities to fulfill children’s rights and child protection.
Download PDF.

The Kawasaki Ordinance on the Rights of the Child, passed by the Kawasaki Municipal Assembly in 2000 codifies the protection of child rights. It stipulates seven rights, including: the right to live without anxiety; the right for children to be themselves and the right to participate in society; and obligates parents, schools and officials of facilities dealing with children to protect these rights. The Ordinance was consulted in 200 meetings and opinion exchanges with citizens and children which took place over a period of about two years.
Link to site.

The Local Governance Act (LGA) clearly spells out that local governments in the country must work to make every ward child-friendly, mobilize and strengthen child clubs, establish children parks and ensure child participation in the local level planning and implementation process among other child right issues such as child marriage, for example. The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development is also working to develop model laws on Child Friendly Local Governance.
Link to Local Governance Act document [PDF].

In the Republic of Korea, municipalities interested in participating in the CFCI must commit to adopting a city ordinance that gives a legal framework to municipal action and ensures appropriate budget allocation.
Download Korea CFCI case study [PDF].