INDICATORS FOR CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
UPDATE: OCTOBER 1996
In order to ensure an effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child — so that children really benefit from the protection it gives — tools to measure or assess the status of children s rights in a country will be needed. Just as the mere ratification of an international convention does not guarantee its implementation, the adaptation of national laws and policies is not a sufficient proof that the rights enshrined in a convention are enjoyed by the people of that country.
Some practical indicators1 to monitor the actual implementation are needed, based on reliable statistical or other relevant information. Such indicators must be easy to collect and easy to understand in order to serve their full purpose. Users of the indicators would be community workers, children’s advocates, government administrators, international organizations and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The aim of the project is to address these concerns, by analysing further the need for indicators to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and how the various rights can be expressed in practical terms. Through the experiences of a series of country case studies the project is developing a strategy for identification and development of appropriate indicators.
Through the involvement of national research teams in the case studies as well as in the overall development of the project, this project is contributing to capacity building within child research and child welfare in developing countries.
The project is designed to fit into the overall process within the field of human rights to develop indicators for use in monitoring the various international human rights treaties, particularly the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The project will also seek to relate closely to relevant developments within the field of child welfare and development assistance relevant to children. In particular, experience from the process of implementing the goals of the Plan of Action of the 1990 World Summit for Children is expected to contribute significantly to this project.As described in more detail below, the goals adopted at the World Summit for Children and the process of developing strategies for their achievement could serve as an important vehicle for specifying the relevant provisions of the Convention and helping the process of determining how to assess their monitoring. Furthermore the project is seeking to continue close coordination with the existing efforts of UNICEF to develop indicators relevant to its mandate, as well as child related activities of other UN agencies and of non-governmental organisations.
In the interpretation of its mandate, the Committee on the Rights of the Child has decided to give priority to establishing a dialogue with States parties on the actual implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to invite to an open and constructive discussion of possible problems or obstacles that States parties meet in their efforts to implement the Convention. This will require the most accurate possible information on the actual situation of the children in their countries. It will also require substantial guidance from the Committee as to what kind of information this dialogue should build upon or refer to.
In this context, the Committee has discussed the question of indicators to be used in monitoring the implementation of the Convention. A working group on the issue has been established and stated that, in its view
… the use of appropriate indicators could contribute to a better assessment of how the rights covered by the Convention were guaranteed and implemented and to an evaluation of progress achieved over time towards the full realization of those rights. It was stressed that the Convention covered a whole range of civil, political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights and that there was therefore a need for a right-by-right approach in order to determine what kind of indicators would be relevant for each of the rights set out in the Convention. Indicators constituted an important component offering the Committee the possibility to assess the progress achieved by States parties2.
The Committee has also stressed that such indicators should meet basic requirements such as validity, objectivity, sensitivity, comparability, accuracy and disaggregation, and referred to ongoing efforts within the UN system to develop “appropriate indicators to measure achievements in the progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights”3 .
The first review of reports from States parties on their measures to implement the Convention confirmed the need for appropriate indicators. In this review, it became clear both to the Committee and to independent observers4 that some tools to measure or assess the implementation are desperately needed in order to proceed beyond a theoretical discussion. Also, it seemed obvious that Governments reporting to the Committee had not been in a position to deliver adequate statistical or other quantitative information that would provide more specific illustration of the situation in their countries with respect to the status of children s rights.
UNICEF has become increasingly concerned about, and involved in, issues related to the implementation of the Convention, and particularly the way this process relates to other important developments. One UNICEF representative has pointed out that
(a) the complementarity — and relevance for indicators — between the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and of the National Programmes of Action for Children, being developed following the 1990 World Summit for Children; (b) the importance of national capacity-building for monitoring progress on both of these fronts; and (c) the key role of good baseline data and situation analyses as part of any strategy for advancing the cause of human rights, including the rights of the child5
are issues of important for the organisation. Moreover, in the introduction to the report of a recent UNICEF seminar on monitoring children’s rights the Director of UNICEF’s Programme division wrote that “To deal with issues of equity, disparity and discrimination, and to deal with protection and participatory rights, what is needed is less a set of universal indicators than a universal technical framework — or set of frameworks — to be adapted in situ.”6
A project to identify indicators for use in monitoring the implementation of the Convention obviously serves the needs of the Committee. Perhaps more importantly, it should also serve States parties in their own efforts to implement and monitor children’s rights. As one of the Committee’s members has stated, the Committee can only serve as a monitor of the monitors7, because of its limited capacity to focus on each individual country. To encourage and give guidance to monitoring undertaken by others would therefore be an important aspect of its work. Obviously, the Committee relates primarily to governments, but guidance on the use of indicators would be very useful (and, perhaps, welcomed) by NGOs, community groups, children s advocates, and others who are concerned by the implementation of the Convention, as well as UNICEF and other UN agencies. Furthermore, a common approach to the identification and use of indicators in the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention would be to the benefit of all groups mentioned above.
At one time, the Committee asked for an article-by-article review of the Convention in order to develop indicators for each of the articles. The feasibility of such an approach was analysed by the first Country Case Study carried out by the project, and suggestions made about ways in which articles could be clustered or regrouped. This regrouping process has been followed in all country case studies through a critical reading of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has provided a greater understanding of the cultural meaning of the Convention as a whole, as well as of specific articles. The resulting regroupment of articles provides a framework for collecting and examining existing data on children and childhood, which can then be examined for their potential for developing a system of children’s rights indicators. Of course, this project cannot possibly hope to come up with the final solutions to the indicators problem, but rather to recommend possible strategies and explore some possible solutions. The overall goal of identifying and developing indicators for use in monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child can only be reached through a long-term process, in which the Childwatch project serves as one of the initial phases, concentrating on establishing baseline indicators, developing in-country capacities and proposing possible ways forward for developing monitoring indicators and processes. Experience in country case studies have shown that the project can act as a catalyst, both nationally and regionally in these respects. Thus a prime function of the project becomes to initiate this process and to set the agenda in collaboration with the main protagonists in this field.
In April 1993, the Swedish and UK Save the Children organisations gathered a group of experts to brainstorm informally with a representative of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF and Childwatch International in London. The meeting represented an effort to address the issue of indicators relevant for the monitoring of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as expressed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Save the Children Alliance, like most development NGOs, needs to develop tools to assess its own work for children, and is using the Convention as a framework for this task. For the meeting, three independent consultants had prepared reviews of current work in child indicator development. These reports also reviewed the first reports from States parties to the Committee and assessed the Committee s consideration of these reports, and their conclusions8.
The meeting reviewed the status of childhood social indicators together with the question of how to express implementation of the provisions of the Convention in quantifiable terms. It was stated that the discussion regarding the monitoring of the Convention occurred because the Convention establishes rights and conditions that are very difficult to measure — in terms either of fulfillment or of violation. In general, statistics are either non existent or of limited utility. The basis for the discussion is, in fact, a challenge to measure the unmeasurable — objectifying the subjective or making the soft hard. It is tempting to suggest that it is almost impossible to monitor an international human rights instrument such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child in a truly objective or scientific manner. The role of the Committee on the Rights of the Child is more crucial to advocacy and lobbying of States parties than monitoring in the strict sense. The Committee can bring a great deal of pressure to bear on governments to comply with international norms in the children s rights field and to introduce measures for children.
The lack of precision is evident even with respect to the most fundamental, general principles in the Convention, such as the best interests of the child . It may seem obvious to note that the best interests of the child are embodied in the achievement of all the rights outlined in the Convention. Yet, when it comes to situations where the conditions for enjoying these rights do not prevail, it is clear that there is no consensus on the criteria for achieving children s best interests.
The London meeting concluded with an agreement that Jo Boyden and Judith Ennew (two of the consultants involved) would review existing literature and indicators relevant to children in especially difficult circumstances (CEDC), to identify approaches that could be useful for the further development of indicators relevant to the monitoring of the Convention9, and that Childwatch International would further develop the project to identify and develop indicators relating to the entire Convention, that could be presented to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and other potential users.
In addition, UNICEF has a long-standing commitment to the development of child related indicators. The yearly publication of a State of the World’ s Children report presents the latest update on a number of variables related to child welfare relative to the mandate of UNICEF. As James Himes has pointed out10, many of these are relevant to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and should be taken into consideration in any effort to identify indicators for monitoring the Convention. With its new Progress of the Nations report, UNICEF has taken another step to develop child rights related indicators. These initiatives, however, only represent the most visible outcomes of a large and ongoing process within UNICEF to identify and develop child related statistics and indicators for children’s welfare.
Similarly, other UN agencies will have data that are relevant for the monitoring of the Convention. Particularly, this would be the case for WHO (health), UNESCO (education and cultural activities) and ILO (child labour), but also UNDP (data on the progress of development). As mentioned above, the UN Centre for Human Rights is involved in process to identify indicators on economic, social and cultural rights, a process that is of great relevance for the study of child rights indicators.
Obviously, much research has already been conducted or is being undertaken that is of relevance for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and could create an important source of data for the proposed project. Among institutions that have focussed particularly on the issue of child rights indicators, the Children’s Rights Centre at the University of Gent, Belgium, will be playing a key role in the actual conduct of the proposed Belgium Country Case Study, which is envisaged as part of a broader project on childhood data. The progress of the indicators project is taking place within the context of the development of Childwatch International itself, which now has an advisory board elected from a group of ‘Key Institutions’ representing a worldwide network of researchers and research institutes with a particular interest in child research. The project is located within one key institution, the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge (UK) and in 1997 should be cooperating with another key institution, CENDIF, which is situated in the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, in the development of the Venezuela Country Case Study. In addition, key institutions have been represented on the Global Advisory Board of the project (see below).
Country case studies have always sought to involve local academic institutions, both through the contacts of team members and on local advisory boards. In Thailand, the Country Case Study is being carried out by members of the research staff of the Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok) Social Research Institute (CUSRI), while in Vietnam one team member was drawn from among researchers at the Ho Chi Minh Academy Social Research Institute. In Zimbabwe, the local coordinator was recruited from among postgraduate students at the University of Zimbabwe and academic staff from three faculties of the same university are well represented on the Local Advisory Committee.
The international NGOs often represent professional expertise in the field of the rights of the child and other child related areas. In the countries where they work, some of them could develop systematic methodological work together with national NGOs, government institutions and research centres or groups. NGOs often have good contacts with the population and can thus provide an analysis of a specific problem, the general situation in a region, etc. Such activities can be initiated without delay as pilot experiences.
It goes without saying that NGOs with capacity for and tradition of conducting research have a role to play both in developing and developed countries, in the implementation process and in establishing the foundations for the monitoring process.
i) Analyse further the need for indicators, and develop a preliminary strategy for expressing implementation of the various articles of the Convention through statistical information or qualitative data.
ii) Review what has already been done in the field of indicators in terms of collection of data, both within the framework of national census offices and agencies collecting data (including NGOs and the various UN agencies), and analyse their usefulness for this purpose. There is already a substantial body of statistical material available but, in many cases, recomputing or disaggregation is necessary to make it sufficiently child centred.
The monitoring system developed for the follow-up to the World Summit for Children goals is also being examined as part of step two. As some of the goals are closely related to Convention articles, any development towards more specific indicators on progress towards fulfillment of the goals may be useful for the monitoring of the Convention.
iii) Country case studies, in which the search for suitable indicators is taking place in connection with the actual process of reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. This represents the actual test of the methods developed in step ii), and provides the experience from which to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations for further strategies. The country case studies are taking place in close cooperation with the Committee, UNICEF and other relevant UN agencies, as well as relevant non-governmental organizations.
iv) Make a comparative analysis of the country case studies, particularly with the aim of indicating strategies for the further use of indicators for children s rights. The conclusions will be presented as a set of recommendations to the Committee on the Rights of the Child with regard to their request for information from States parties in their reports to the Committee, and guidelines for further research. In addition, the outcome will be presented in the form of a monitoring handbook and other training materials for use by local government, IGOs and NGOs.
i) Countries should have experience from the process of reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on their implementation of the Convention, and/or have prepared a comprehensive National Programme of Action for Children. This is to ensure that the countries either are motivated for actively addressing the issue of identifying indicators for children s rights, or have relevant experience from seeking such indicators.
ii) Countries should be in a situation that is comparable to and representative of other countries in their region, and have socio-economic and geographical characteristics of sufficient complexity to produce a variety of living conditions for children.
iii) Countries should have known research communities with the capacity to undertake the case studies, an open and easily accessible government administration, and be easy to operate in.
iv) Countries should have the presence of international development assistance organizations (UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International) and local NGOs (taking advantage of any appropriate coalitions) which could be brought into the project as cooperating partners and supporters of the case study.
The final selection of countries in cooperation with the sponsors and participating organizations is already close to completion. A pilot study in Senegal, concentrating on two articles of the Convention, was completed in November 1994. The reports from this study were the subject of a consultation process parallel to the European Conference on Monitoring Children’s Rights at the University of Gent, December 11-14, 1994. The full country case study in Senegal took place between January and April 1995. The country case study teams for Vietnam and Nicaragua have been recruited and research starts in October and November 1995, respectively. Depending on a number of factors, including securing adequate funding, case studies of Thailand, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Belgium and Venezuela are likely to be carried out.
The experience of the pilot study in Senegal showed the importance of recruiting researchers from a number of different disciplines within the social science field and of obtaining a secondment from a government statistics department. The Senegal country team included a social demographer, a sociologist, a social worker and a programme facilitator. This mix of approaches worked well in development, data collection and analysis phases. This experience has also underlined the importance of recruiting teams members at a relatively early stage of career development, with first hand experience of project work as well as research skills and, above all, a commitment to children’s rights.
Recruitment of country case study teams is carried out by the international project coordinator with the advice of the local collaborating institution. Local coordination of the research process is also a function of the collaborating institution, in order to ensure project sustainability.
It has been found that country case study team members require extra support and capacity-building in a number of areas:
(a) Recomputation of statistical information so that the child is the unit of observation and childhood the unit of analysis;
(b) Collection and critical analysis of information produced by academics and NGOs, particularly unpublished and “grey” material;
(c) Conceptualization within the scope of articles devoted to protection (“children in especially difficult circumstances” CEDC);
(d) Creative use of information on CEDC gathered using small samples, in order to produce estimates at a national levels.
These needs were taken into account in plans for the country case studies in Vietnam, Thailand, Zimbabwe and Venezuela, through the development of capacity-building workshops and other professional support.
Nevertheless, recruitment of teams members at relatively early stages of their careers can bring certain benefits:
(a) Greater commitment to the global project and national follow-up process, with the result that a human resource base is being developed;
(b) Possibly because there is less to “unlearn” than might be the case with more experienced researchers, creative thinking in the protocol development phase, can result in new lines of enquiry.
It is hoped that a meeting between members of country research teams can take place in 1997, to achieve a standardisation of process and framework for the methodologies and methods developed for this project. The researchers from the national teams will be invited to share their experience of the process of developing a common framework, within which countryappropriate indicators can be developed, as well as with regards to the use and collection of material for indicators, so that this experience can be integrated in the final strategy for the project. These gatherings of researchers will serve as a contribution to national, regional and international capacity building in child research and social indicators, as the participants will be in contact with state of the art methodology and also have an opportunity to apply their experiences in an international comparative study.
The project has received support from UNICEF New York Headquarters (Division of Public Affairs, Programme Division, Evaluation Office) in 1994 and 1995 as contributions to the initial stages and the pilot study in Senegal. SIDA (Swedish International Development Authority) and the European Commission (Directorate-General for External Public Relations, Human Rights Unit) have given grants to the project that are used to finance global coordination, such as the salary and administrative expenses of the International Coordinator, as well as travel and meetings for the Global Advisory Committee.
After the initiating and planning phase in 1994, during which Childwatch International provided some funds from its core budget, the project has had its own, exclusive account and coordinating activities have been financed entirely from external funds. In addition, each country case study is financed individually, by organisations or institutions that are involved in, and committed to, working to promote children’s rights in the country involved. Budgeting for each case study is based on a model budget, and includes local salaries and administrative costs as well as related visits of the International Coordinator. The budget has varied from US$ 40,000 to 70,000 according to local costs and the scope of each case study.
Since 1 March 1995, the project has been based at the Centre for Family research (CFR) at the University of Cambridge, through an agreement between the University and Childwatch, which covers the budget for global coordination. CFR is the base for the International Coordinator, whose salary and expenses are covered through reimbursement of actual expenditures on the budget, quarterly in arrears. Other general expenses, such as the costs connected to meetings of the Global Advisory Committee, are covered directly from the project’s account in Oslo.
The Global Advisory Committee consists of 11 members, representing Childwatch itself, relevant academic institutions, main donors and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The first meeting of the Global Advisory Committee was held in Dakar, Senegal 9-10 October 1995, and the second will take place at the University of Cambridge (UK) 26-27 October 1996. Geraldine van Bueren, of the Faculty of Laws, Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, chairs this Committee, the mandate of which is to advise on the overall conduct of the project, particularly in terms of:
3 providing peer review and contributions to intellectual and academic processes;
3 providing review from the perspectives of donors and users;
3 integration of lessons learned into future planning for the project;
3 identifying potential future activities and actors, beyond the finalisation of the project.
Members of the Global Advisory Committee also serve as an active reference group for the International Coordinator at all times, according to their particular competencies.
In each country, a local (national) advisory committee is established, with representatives from local donors, UNICEF, the research community, relevant NGOs and the Government to monitor and support the process of the individual country case study and to take responsibility for national follow-up of the project. The structure and role of local advisory committees has varied in different national circumstances, but all have been developed according to a model terms of reference.
i) Pilot study of one country (Senegal) concentrating on Articles 24 and 32 of the Convention; country case study team development; the establishment of a draft protocol to serve as an initial framework for developing baseline indicators; and an exploration of the quality and accessibility of secondary data. Initial steps towards building a country management committee. A consultation on reports about the process and data collected, with the consequent establishment of a global management committee (August to December 1995).
ii) Country case studies in selected countries (see table above). The country case studies are conducted over a period of up to 24 months. Each study takes approximately three to six months. Each of the country case research teams prepare a report on the experience, including conclusions and recommendations from the country studied (January 1995-June 1997).
iii) Comparative analysis of the country case studies and preparation of final report with recommendations to the Committee on the Rights of the Child and other target groups, in collaboration with the country case teams. Six months, including workshop with country case research teams (1997).
iv) Further development of training materials and phase of training trainers at international, regional and national levels.
As indicated in the introduction, the project seeks to integrate relevant contributions from a various of sources in the project and to engage in close cooperation with institutions and organizations that are involved in activities relevant to the identification and development of child rights indicators as well as their use.
Through the networks of Childwatch International and the Children s Rights Centre at the University of Gent, connections are being made with research institutions with relevant competence, to seek their contributions, as relevant. This includes cooperation with relevant regional organisations, such as the Conseil pour le Developpement de la Recherche Economique et Social en Afrique (CODESRIA) and the regional networks of nongovernmental organisations, such as Defence for Children International and members of the International Save the Children Alliance, to ensure maximum dissemination of the experience gained in the project and the fullest possible impact of the capacity-building elements.
Close cooperation and coordination with UNICEF is also natural for the following reasons: firstly, for its role in developing a monitoring strategy for National Programmes for Children; secondly, for its general work with indicators in relation to its own work (as expressed i.a. through the State of the World’s Children and the Progress of the Nations reports); thirdly for its programme to study aspects of the implementation of the Convention under the auspices of its International Child Development Centre in Florence; and finally for its technical assistance to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
A number of ‘spin off’ activities have been stimulated by the project. These include:
3 a regional data-collection process in collaboration with UNICEF International Child Development Centre;
3 a contribution on measuring and monitoring the sexual exploitation of children (and other ‘CEDC’ categories) for the World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, in collaboration with UNICEF New York Headquarters11.
Perhaps the most exciting development is a planned new research programme, which is the result of the observation by national research teams that current theories of child development cannot provide universally valid indicators of psychobiological development. Childwatch International and the Centre for Family Research are thus facilitating a unique collaboration between psychologists, anthropologists, medical and programme workers from five major regions of the world in order to take up the challenge to identify and evaluate appropriate theoretical bases of knowledge about and understanding of child development in different cultural contexts. An initial planning meeting, held at the University of Cambridge in July 1996, established an Executive Scientific Committee representing institutions that will serve as regional focal points for a series of workshops, culminating in a global consultation in the year 2000. While the overall aim is better promotion of child welfare in the Twenty-First Century, one primary objective is to serve the needs of emerging children’s rights monitoring systems.
The primary target group for the results of the study will be the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which on several occasions has asked for tools to assess the implementation of children’ s rights in countries that have ratified the Convention. The Committee might want to include in its guidelines for reporting more specific advice about what kind of statistical information it will like to see as indications of the status of the various rights of the Convention in a country. A standardised set of indicators will also make it possible to draw comparisons between countries — if desired. In November 1995 the Director of Childwatch International and the International Coordinator made a presentation about the project to members the Committee, while it was in session in Geneva. A member of the Committee has been delegated to serve on the Global Advisory Board.
As mentioned, the Committee in many ways functions as the monitor of the monitors. The true monitors of the Convention are to be found at the national level. Governments and others should, according to the Committee, engage in a continuous monitoring of children s rights, rather than making it a one-off exercise each time a report to the Committee is due. Indicators will thus have a widespread use beyond the Committee. The project works as closely as appropriate with the governments of the countries in which case studies are carried out. In Vietnam, where plans for a routine monitoring system has advanced rapidly, in addition to working from the outset with the Committee for the Care and Protection of Children, the project has been involved in training government staff from the General Statistics Office and other ministries in aspects of the development of indicators for children’s rights, as well as in drawing up with the General Statistics Office, a preliminary list of indicators to be used in the 1997 report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. In Nicaragua, the project is working with the Comisión Nacional de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos del Niño y la Niña, which operates out of the Presidential office. In Zimbabwe, the local collaborating office is the National Plan of Action team, which is located in the Ministry of Health.
There have been several points of collaboration between the project and UNICEF during the past two years. In addition to the fact that UNICEF has funded substantial parts of the project, training materials have been shared, or produced in collaboration, with UNICEF at international, regional and national levels.
The experiences of the country case studies thus far have led (inter alia) to the following conclusions:
i) It is not desirable at this point to seek a universal set of indicators but rather, as stated above, a process and a framework that can be used to develop indicators for children’s rights that are culturally and nationally appropriate. Thus it is necessary to view the development of children’s rights monitoring systems as the products of a universal process that involves locally-specific, cultural interpretations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This does not mean falling into the trap of cultural relativism, but rather developing an understanding of the meaning of particular rights in terms of local cultural practices. This culturally-relevant approach entails the recognition that the ways childhood and human rights are conceptualised in each culture are intimately related to the way social data are collected and presented.
ii) It is important to work internationally, through sharing country case study experiences, towards the establishment of data collection methods that are child-centred. Current data sets depend more on the needs of agencies than the needs of children. Nevertheless, the regular data collecting methods of both governments and non-governmental organisations often provide raw data that can be re-calculated to produce child-centred information. Moreover, there is potential for regular data collection to be modified in the future, at little cost, to improve information on the progressive achievement of children’s rights.
iii) Children’s rights indicators require not only child-centred data, but also high degrees of disaggregation, for both baseline and monitoring indicators. This can often be achieved through recalculation of existing data.
iv) An enormous amount of information about children, both qualitative and quantitative, already exists. Much of this is good quality, but varying with respect to accessibility, analysis and sheer physical condition. There are no centralised agencies for assembling and reconciling this data, although there is considerable willingness on the part of most related agencies to do this. One aim of country case studies has been to establish modelling procedures by which existing data sets can be reconciled in order to provide meaningful information, particularly with respect to issues in which indicators are particularly necessary, such as economic exploitation.
iv) One of the most important factors impeding the centralisation of data on children is the need to reconcile the age groupings used by different agencies for collecting and reporting data concerning children. Information on children is not normally recorded or presented in ways that make it easy to compare data from different sources. The age groups used tend to reflect the needs of the organisation or agency collecting the information rather than the needs of children. Thus, census offices everywhere present the entire population in five-year age groups; Ministry of Education statistics reflect the priorities of schools; the Ministry of Health is oriented towards illnesses and health services; household surveys show children as attributes of households and ministries of labour are interested in the legal workforce. This means that it is difficult to examine, for example, the data on school drop out together with the data on the labour force under 18 years of age, despite the importance of being able to do so in monitoring Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A coherent monitoring system (as opposed to a simple list of unrelated indicators) needs to seek agreed age groupings for collecting and reporting data about children — groupings that are based on children’s development and rights rather than on the needs of agencies and organisations.
vi) The project appears to be particularly welcome in a variety of national and regional settings. Country case studies can act as catalysts for stimulating new levels of debate, cooperation and capacity building. The link with the increasing development of national and regional fora for child research is clear. One of the current interests of the project is to systematise ways of further mobilisation of existing groups and developing appropriate materials for training, in collaboration with NGO and IGOs.
vii) Although there is still a considerable way to go in establishing the framework for baseline indicators, certain fruitful lines for future development of monitoring indicators have appeared. Among these are the use of existing data collection points, such as schools, clinics and NGO community projects, as sentinel sites that can produce regular information on children’s rights, on a quarterly basis for example, as part of their normal functioning. Childwatch International is pursuing this possibility with a number of different agencies, including the possible development of models for processing data on a national basis.
viii) Western assumptions about children and the family have an undue influence on current indicators and data collection procedures. Local cultural norms relating to childhood should be taken into consideration in the development of children’s rights indicators, and compared to the global conceptions of childhood incorporated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A framework through which this can take place will be developed through comparison between country case studies. However, it is still necessary to seek a core set of universal indicators. This is the rationale behind the development of the debate on universal aspects of child development described earlier.
ix) The project needs to take particular note of the ways in which ‘results’ of the country case studies can match the specific requirements of governments in the process of reporting to the Committee and of presenting reports in ways that are appropriate to the time constraints under which the Committee operates, while still providing meaningful information about children’s rights. These considerations have led to the search for a method of producing country case study ‘digests’, to the exploration of a means of developing ‘child rights density maps’ and to collaboration with other organisations to produce a Windows-environment data-base programme for child rights monitoring information.
The experiences of the project thus far can be summarised through:
3 Engagement of national governments, NGOs, IGOs and (to a certain extent) academic institutions. In particular the governmental collaboration has been close in Nicaragua and Vietnam, and promises to become the same in Zimbabwe. UNICEF has been closely involved in project development in Thailand and Vietnam, as well as in various ‘spin-off’ activities. Two of the country case studies (Senegal and Zimbabwe) have been funded by the NGO sector. The Thai country case study is being carried out within the university sector. All four sectors have been involved in project advisory boards at both international and national levels. In all cases where country case studies have been completed, local sponsors have committed further funds to follow-up activities.
3 It has been possible to recruit qualified and committed national teams that have contributed substantially to the intellectual and practical progress of the global process. In particular, the Senegal team made a significant contribution to the development of the approach and methods used in country case studies, while members of the Vietnam team and advisory committee have been responsible for a considerable input to the development of training materials and follow-up monitoring processes.
3 Country case study reports on the potential of existing data for developing indicators for monitoring children’s rights have been prepared by national teams in Senegal, Vietnam, Nicaragua and Thailand. These are being prepared for publication in the national languages and translated into English for circulation and comment by members of the Global Advisory Committee (see below) and a selected number of experts. The final English versions will include further material, both concrete and theoretical, as suggested by comments received. It is planned that the full series of country case study reports will be published in English by the Centre for Family Research and Childwatch International, together with an introductory volume and final report, both written by the International Coordinator.
3 The approach of the project from the beginning has been ‘bottom up’, so that the net result is mutual learning and capacity building. From the Childwatch side it has been possible to deliver training on social indicators, children’s rights and children’s rights indicators, not only to national team members but also to academics and staff of governmental agencies, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations. National team members and their associates have built the global understanding of ways of interpreting the Convention on the Rights of the Child in local cultures, as well as understandings of childhood and childhood data. Each country case study report covers some aspects of these new areas of knowledge, but these insights will be explored in greater depth in the final, global report of the project.
3 The objective of country case studies is to explore the potential of current data sets for the development of indicators for children’s rights, to make recommendations for the most fruitful paths to pursue and to identify areas in which further conceptual and data collection work needs to be carried out. The three country case studies that have been completed thus far include lists of recommended indicators, whether these are existing or potential. These can form the basis for future development of indicator systems for monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since the drafting of the reports on these studies, monitoring processes have been set in train in Vietnam and, more recently, Nicaragua. These processes aim to normalise the collection and use of data for monitoring children’s rights as part of the routine data-gathering processes of government. In Vietnam this process has reached the stage of development of a minimal set of indicators for children’s rights for use in the 1997 report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, together with training processes for provincial-level government statistical office staff, and a plan for a full children’s rights indicators system to be in operation by the time of the next report to the Committee in 2002.
3 Locally-customised training materials have been developed by the project in English, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. These include materials for training in social indicators, children’s rights, children-centred statistics, indicators for ‘children in especially difficult circumstances’, and data collection for children’s rights monitoring. In Vietnam and Thailand, workbooks for data collection have been produced for In collaboration with UNICEF, International Child Development Centre, and the Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos, Costa Rica, a manual on data collection has been developed and tested with UNICEF Child Rights Focal Points and government statistical offices for all seven countries of Central America. In the context of this manual, a Windows-environment computer data-base programme has been developed.
Future training materials, for grass-roots activists, are being developed in two indigenous languages in Zimbabwe. Training in Zimbabwe will include personnel from other Southern African countries and video coverage of the process, here and in future country case studies, will provide further documentation of the project, for use in audio-visual training packs.
A social indicator is the elabtion of the empirical determination of a concept that reprecents a social phenomenon (or one of its attributes).
2. Committee on the Rights of the Child. Report from the 2nd Session, 28 September – 9 October 1992 (CRC/C/10).
3. C/CRC/10 p.
4. Jo Boyden, Judith Ennew and Kajsa Pehrsson: “Three Reports on the Development of Indicators for the Monitoring of the Convention on the Rights of Child”, Rädda Barnen, Sweden, March 1993.
5. James R. Himes: “Reflections on Indicators concerning the Rights of the Child. The Development and Human Rights Communities should get their Acts together”, in Himes: “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Three Essays on the Challenge of Implementation”. Innocenti Essay, UNICEF International Child Development Centre, Florence, 1993.
6. Gautam, K. C. in Black, M. 1994: “Monitoring the rights of children: Innocenti Global Seminar, Summary Report”, Florence, UNICEF/ICDC.
7. Thomas Hammarberg: “The Work of the Expert Committee on the Rights of the Child”. Address at the Consultation on the Role of the United Nations and NGOs in the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF House, New York, 24 March 1993.
8. Boyden, Ennew and Pehrsson, op.cit.
9. Jo Boyden and Judith Ennew: “Survey of Surveys”, Report for Rädda Barnen, September 1993.
10. Himes, op.cit., p. 20.
11. See Ennew, J., Gopal, K., Heeran, J., & Montgomery, H., 1996 (Second Edition), Children and Prostitution: How can we measure and monitor the commercial and sexual ecploitation of children? Literature review and annotated bibliography, Oslo, Childwatch Internationaland Cambridge, Centre for Family Research