Topic 5 Who is protecting child rights? The role of independent bodies


The protection of children’s rights – in other words, child protection – comprises an ecosystem of:

  • governmental
  • non-governmental
  • and independent authorities

which ideally cooperate towards the best interest of the child (Article 3 UNCRC).

A child, regardless of his/her age has the right to report and this is a fact that should never be ignored or alienated.

This is important to take into consideration since lots of stakeholders often ask parental consent or confirmation from children who report disrespect, abuse or any kind of violation of their rights.

Significant international campaigns and initiatives for children’s rights try to raise awareness on the above. For example:

  • ‘’Break the silence’’ international campaign against female genital mutilation (which mostly takes place during childhood) by ‘’There Is No Limit’’ Foundation
  • ‘’Step Up, Speak Up! ’’ campaign by ‘’Childnet’’ to create resources, guidance and information for professionals to raise awareness of online sexual harassment amongst young people aged 13-17 years and to increase reporting.
  • UNICEF’s ‘’Speak up for your Rights’’ digital to ‘’to raise your voice about what you feel, think and need to exercise your rights

In the EU, apart from the police, the social welfare and other law enforcement or institutional intervention agencies, there are other bodies who specialize in the protection of children’s rights. For example:

  • The Ombudsperson for Children: The first ombudsperson for children was founded in Norway in 1981. According to the Children’s rights International Network ‘’the role of an ombudsperson for children is to:
    • Promote and protect the rights and interests of children
    • Improve access to existing rights
    • Promote recognition of human rights not yet embodied in legislation or practice

Different countries have different systems, so there may be either a separate children’s ombudsperson for children’s  rights commissioner, or there may be focal points for children’s rights which exist within general human rights commissions or ombudsperson offices.’’

It is highly important to inform your students about the existence of an Ombudsman in your own country – or even other additional independent bodies that protect children’s rights. Getting students familiar with these bodies makes it easier for them to report or to help another child or another member of their family report. Here is a list of the know Ombudsmen for Children in the ARISE partnership countries:

  • Slovenia: The Human Rights Ombudsman RS is responsible among others for children’s rights as well.
  • Cyprus: The Commissioner for Children’s Rights is the children’s rights-specialized independent body in the country.
  • Greece: The Greek Ombudsman office hosts the deputy Child Ombudsman (“Συνήγορος του Παιδιού”)
  • Portugal: The Portuguese Ombudsman-ENNHRI ‘’is attentive, among other issues, to the fulfilment of children’s […] rights’’.
  • Romania: The Romanian Ombudsman (‘’Avocatul Poporului’’, literally meaning “People’s Advocate”) according to law no. 35/1997 is also responsible for children’s rights.