CREATING A PROCESS FIT FOR
Children and young people’s participation in the
preparations for the UN Special Session on Children
An Evaluation of Save the Children's Support to
Children's and Young People's Participation
In the National and International Preparations for the
UN General Assembly Special Session on Children
(February 2000 to September 2001)
Evaluator: Michael Etherton
Executive Summary page 4
List of abbreviations page 6
Introduction to the Evaluation page 7
Parameters for the Evaluation page 7
The Methodology for the Evaluation page 8
Acknowledgements page 10
Chapter 1: The Process of Children's and Young People's
Participation. Page 11
Participation in the Special Session as a Process page 12
Chapter 2: The International Save the Children Alliance Task Group
on Participation page 14
Pre-TGP page 14
Review of the work of the TGP page 15
Major Milestones page 30
Documents Received from the TGP page 31
Chapter 3: Children and Young People's Participation in Countries
and in Regions
Africa page 33
East Asia and the Pacific page 44
South Asia page 60
The Americas page 77
Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East page 84
Chapter 4: Lessons Learned page 96
For children and young people who participated at any level or who want to learn from
this experience page 97
For facilitators of children and young people's participation page 101
For The International Save the Children Alliance & individual Save the Children Head
Offices page 103
For in-country Save the Children’s, NGOs, Children's Organisations, civil society
groups page 106
For UNICEF and participating International Organisations page 109
Supplementary information from Central America page 111
Supplementary information from South America page 119
TGP Reports, Global Reports and New York PrepCom Documents page 153
List of regional reports, by region page 155
Participation in the Special Session preparatory events page 158
Table from Dr. Joachim Theis’s paper page 159
"Creating a Process Fit for Children" is an evaluation of Save the Children‟s support
to children and young people‟s participation in the national, regional and international preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the effectiveness of Save the Children's efforts to ensure meaningful children‟s participation in the build-up to the Special Session (from
January 2000 to August 2001).
Chapter 1 of the evaluation looks at the overall process of children‟s participation over this period which aimed at ensuring a wide-ranging engagement by children and young people at every level. It emphasizes that the International Save the Children Alliance was committed to developing this overall process of children‟s participation rather than simply working towards a single high profile event. This chapter examines how this task was addressed.
Chapter 2 of the evaluation provides an overview of the work done by Save the Children's Task Group on Participation (TGP). This group co-ordinated Save the Children's work at the global level. It looks at events before the establishment of the TGP and the major milestones that followed its creation. It assesses the success of the group in providing a clear organizational focus for this work.
Chapter 3 of the evaluation examines the work done at both country and regional levels in supporting children‟s participation. The information for this chapter was drawn from country and regional level evaluations, as well as from interviews and questionnaires filled out by a both children and adults. There was also feedback from people who were not involved in the Special Session on Children but who are committed to furthering children‟s participation.
The report concludes with an analysis of the lessons learned during this process. It begins by highlighting a number of key lessons for children and young people who want to learn from this experience how to enhance their own participation. This includes lessons about representation and being selected by peers; the importance of adequate preparation; the need for good follow-up both in-country and internationally and, finally, ways in which experiences such as the Special Session can be built upon in adult life.
The next section is addressed to facilitators of children and young people's participation. It considers what can be learned from facilitating the participation of large groups of children and young people in such events. This includes the request from children and young people that many more of their peers should be involved in similar processes. It also identifies the vital role of facilitators as the main point of reference for children following an event. They are the ones that the young people are most likely to contact for follow-up and the facilitators can play a role in helping to establish in-country enabling adult environments.
For the International Save the Children Alliance and individual Save the Children members, the next section highlights the selection process of children and young people as the key starting point for any new process of participation as well as the
need for the best practice lessons to be institutionalized within the organization. Child protection, which was so important to the process, needs to continue to be a high
The following section is addressed to Save the Children country programs, NGOs and
civil society groups. It looks at what the national coalitions that came together to support children's participation can learn from the process (e.g. about the selection of young participants and child protection policies). This includes the message that
„children‟s participation in civil society strengthens all civil society.‟ There are also broader lessons to be learned about creating an enabling environment for children‟s
participation in civil society and the importance of the training of staff and field workers in skills to facilitate this.
The final section is directed at UNICEF and other UN and INGO partners and
considers how they could develop their role in the future.
This evaluation has helped Save the Children to learn more about children‟s
expectations of our organization and how we can improve our work with them. Save
the Children hopes that it will also provide insights to other organizations on how
they might go about developing their own work in supporting children‟s participation.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Throughout this evaluation a number of short forms for words are used. This list will
explain what they mean.
Civil Society Organisations CSO
Global Movement for Children GMfC
The International Save the Children the Alliance
National Plan of Action NPA
Non Government Organisations NGO
Organisation of African Unity OAU
Preparatory Committee Meeting PrepCom
Save the Children SC
Task Group on Participation TGP
United Nations Special Session on Children UNSSOC and SSOC
Introduction to the Evaluation
The International Save the Children Alliance Task Group on Participation [hereafter
referred to as the TGP] has consistently promoted the importance of evaluating
children's and young people‟s participation. For this reason it agreed in 2001 that
Save the Children should commission an overall evaluation of the Special Session
process. This was originally planned to include the UN General Assembly's Special thSession on Children itself, initially planned for September 19, 2001. The purpose of
the proposed evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of children‟s participation in
all aspects of the process leading up to the Special Session, and in the Special Session
thFollowing the events of September 11 and the postponement of the Special Session
on Children [the SSoC], the TGP decided not to wait for the Special Session itself to
take place. It decided to commission an evaluation of the process of children and
young people's participation that had occurred over the previous 15 months or more
before memories began to fade and key personnel had moved on. A specific focus of
the evaluation would be to see how well the TGP, regional Save the Children teams
and country teams had managed the process of supporting children and young
people's participation. Michael Etherton, a freelance consultant on children's
participation, who had previously worked for both Oxfam and Save the Children UK,
was commissioned to carry out this evaluation. A further, external supplementary
evaluation has been undertaken after the postponed Special Session had taken place in
order to complete the evaluation process.
Parameters for the Evaluation
The parameters for assessing the work done by adults and children in preparing for
the SSoC are contained in a number of key policy documents of the International Save
the Children Alliance. The following is a summary of the main parameters that have
informed this process.
? Whatever is done, by adults or by children themselves, should be done in the best
interests of the child.
? Children's participation in policy and decision-making processes should be linked
to their rights as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However,
children's right to participate is not constrained by a lack of knowledge of the
Convention [CRC]. Many children and young people from every walk of life
regard their right to information and to participation in decision-making as their
inalienable right, whatever their knowledge of the articles of the CRC.
? Children‟s participation should be meaningful, ethical and a high quality process.
Children's and young people's participation in formal meetings should be
measured against such "Best Practice".
? other agencies, especially in countries of the developing world, have also
developed skills and "Best Practice" guidelines in children's participation in civil
society that include their participation in high profile national and international
meetings. Children's participation in the SSoC should also be measured against
these wider criteria.
? Criteria for this evaluation of children and young people's participation in the
preparations for the SSoC should not include corporate branding or marketing
objectives for UNICEF or for the various members of the International Save the
The Methodology for the Evaluation
The Evaluator was himself involved at a regional level with what was then called the UNSSOC until he left both South Asia and Save the Children UK at the beginning of April 2001. He was subsequently involved in advising on children's participation in a number of countries in West and Southern Africa. Since being commissioned by the Save the Children to do this evaluation, he has used his visits to countries to meet people and discuss with them children's participation for the Special Session.
The Evaluator developed a structured questionnaire in order to get a wide threpresentation of views about what had happened up to September 11 2001.
Together with the TGP, 3 questionnaires were developed: a long adult questionnaire, and two U18 questionnaires, a long version and a short version. The latter was primarily for those young people who had participated in preparatory events within their various countries. However, with hindsight, seeking information and opinions by way of a long and complicated questionnaire was a mistake. Many fewer responses were received than had been hoped for, although those that were received proved to be full of insights that have guided the Evaluator‟s understanding. A table of the source of completed questionnaires that were returned is included in the Appendix.
A number of documents, reports and papers relating to events connected with the Special Session preparations were also collected, in particular those relating to children and young people's participation in the process. These have been extremely useful. Many of them are important documents on participation. Their distribution is often very limited and ad hoc through no fault of the authors and compilers of those reports. The limited aspect of the distribution is geographical i.e. they are not available outside of the countries in which they were produced. The ad hoc nature of the distribution is such that they go to a relatively random group of people, some of whom put them on shelves and do not read them. Many of these documents deserve a much wider circulation: to other countries and to activists and young people who would act upon the information in them.
The reports have also included evaluations done independently by country coalitions on children's participation within those countries. Many of these reports would, be of great interest to other countries where the coalitions around children's participation have encountered similar problems and sometimes come up with quite different
This evaluation report has therefore been written with a view to enabling readers to work out for themselves if a particular report or document would be useful to
coalitions in their own countries. The evaluation report has also been written for all
the young people who completed questionnaires and sent them back, or with whom the Evaluator had conversations. Some of them have had important things to say: original and insightful comments on issues adults perhaps think about, but have never found such an effective way of saying. These have generally been quoted in full in order to avoid taking phrases and sentences out of their context.
The Evaluator‟s personal commitment in undertaking this evaluation, apart from fulfilling the commission of the TGP, was to extend the children and young people's participatory process into the conduct of the evaluation itself. This would include asking children and young people who had been involved about their ideas and opinions concerning children and young-people‟s participation, it would also
investigate what hopes they had for the outcome of that commitment. However, the evaluation would also seek to find ways in which children and young people would be able to determine what it was they themselves wanted from an evaluation of their
participation in the Special Session. They would help to frame the evaluation's
purpose. They would also need to determine what support they needed from adults in carrying it out at the various levels. It is hoped to report on this aspect of the evaluation separately
It should be noted that all views expressed in this evaluation are those of the Evaluator. Publication of this evaluation should not be read as implying agreement with, or consent to, these views by Save the Children or any of its member organisations.
Experience has shown, in Asia, in Africa, and in Europe, that children recognise that rights for children are not contained in "wish-lists" but in a fairer sharing of the resources that are around. Both adolescents and pre-adolescents can and will pursue an ever more sophisticated analysis, given the tools to do so. They are keen to confront moral and ethical dilemmas. They are also able - it seems effortlessly - to extend this concept of fairer sharing from the community level, where it firsts finds expression, to national and regional levels. Finally, they extend their understanding of equity into their views on globalisation.
I was greatly assisted by Michelle Morris, Sarah Stevenson and Bill Bell of the Task Group on Participation in collecting material and providing advice, particularly in the early stages of the evaluation. However, all that I have written by way of reportage and analysis is entirely my own.
I would also like to thank all those children, young people and adults who filled in the questionnaire or gave other feedback to me. I have also had a number of conversations, informal discussions and telephone interviews with adults and young people. I hope I have accurately reflected all your comments and ideas.
Devon, July, 2002