Children’s Rights to Access to Justice and Remedy: Recent Developments

Published date01 April 2024
AuthorAnn Skelton
Date01 April 2024
Subject MatterInternational News
Youth Justice
2024, Vol. 24(1) 8 –12
© The Author(s) 2024
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/14732254241238515
Children’s Rights to Access to Justice
and Remedy: Recent Developments
Ann Skelton
Ten years ago, in a resolution on children’s rights, the UN Human Rights Council (2013)
described children’s access to justice as ‘the ability to obtain a just and timely remedy
for violations of rights as put forth in national and international norms and standards’
(para. 4). It is also acknowledged as a ‘fundamental right in itself, and an essential prereq-
uisite for the protection and promotion of all other human rights’ (UN Human Rights
Council, 2013: para. 3). Earlier, in its General Comment No. 5 on General Measures of
Implementation, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (2003) had
underscored that ‘[f]or rights to have meaning, effective remedies must be available to
redress violations’ (para. 24).
There is some connectivity between access to justice and ‘youth justice’, but the con-
cepts should not be conflated (UN Human Rights Council, 2013: para. 6). Whereas the
concept of youth justice specifically addresses the situation of children ‘alleged as,
accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law’ (UN Convention on the rights
of the child (UNCRC 1989): art.40), access to justice for children is a much broader con-
cept. It encapsulates the idea that children can use justice mechanisms towards the realiza-
tion of all their human rights, and that they can do this as actors, initiating cases. It goes
beyond a focus on child-friendly justice, which focuses on children who find themselves
in the courts for criminal or civil matters.
In January 2024, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (2024)
announced its decision to dedicate its 27th General Comment to children’s rights to access
to justice and effective remedies. A concept note was issued, which aims to ‘provide
authoritative guidance to States Parties to undertake all appropriate legislative,
administrative and other actions to ensure children’s right to access justice and effective
remedies for the full realization of all their rights’ (United Nations Committee on the
Rights of the Child, 2024: para. 16). There will be opportunities for all stakeholders,
including children, to make submissions during the drafting of the General Comment.1
Corresponding author:
Ann Skelton, Room 4.14 Law Faculty Building, University of Pretoria, Lynwood Rd campus Hatfield, Pretoria, South
1238515YJJ0010.1177/14732254241238515Youth JusticeSkelton
International News

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