The Workshop: Promoting Stronger Forms of Advocacy

In October 2011, the Child Rights International Network (CRIN) and partner in Turkey - the International Children's Center (ICC) - staged the first of a series of workshops to encourage stronger, including legal, forms of advocacy to challenge violations of children's rights, and identify how CRIN might best support this work globally.

In every country, including the UK and Turkey, there are many persisting, serious violations of children's human rights (economic and social as well as civil and political). The fact that governments are not responding to conventional forms of advocacy or to repeated identical recommendations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlights the need to resort to stronger methods and to ensure that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is used as the legal instrument that it is.

The range and scale of violations is now more visible globally - which is in itself a step forward. But in the 22 years since the CRC was adopted, there has been little use of legal action or regional and international human rights mechanisms to try to force a great respect for children's rights from governments.

While legal advocacy is not a new or revolutionary idea, it is evident that it needs to expand to involve more people and organisations - not only lawyers specialising in children's rights, but all those who work with and for children as well as children themselves.

With this in mind, in the course of the past few years, CRIN has been building a global network to encourage and support ever more effective advocacy, to move children's rights advocacy beyond its infancy. The pilot legal advocacy workshop was held in Turkey not only because it is clear that serious violations children's rights persist there, as that is true of many other countries, but because organisations in Turkey have already made use of the European Court of Human Rights, which is regarded as one of the strongest human rights mechanisms. In addition, there is a strong children's rights community. The aim was to discuss examples of persistent violations in the country that have not responded to conventional forms of advocacy and use this as a basis for exploring what more legalistic forms of advocacy could be used to challenge these violations.

While the discussion focused on Turkey, the content is relevant to all countries. CRIN believes that every country needs to go through a similar sort of discussion or process in order to continue to address what more can be done to force governments to take the CRC seriously as a legal instrument, fulfil their obligations under it, and ensure that children in each country have effective, accessible remedies when their rights are violated.

This report will be built on as similar workshops are held around the world, with the hope of providing a template which can be used by organisations in other countries to replicate this experience.