The Lanzarote Convention requires Parties to “encourage the participation of children, according to their evolving capacity, in the development and the implementation of state policies, programmes or other initiatives concerning the fight against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children” (Article 9 (1) of the Lanzarote Convention). The involvement of children in the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention is firmly based also on the priorities of the Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) and the Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18.
In line with this Recommendation, child participation means that children, any person under the age of 18 years, individually or in groups, have the right, the means, the space, the opportunity and, where necessary, the support to freely express their views, to be heard and to contribute to decision making on matters affecting them, their views being given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity. In order to be able to participate meaningfully and genuinely, children and young people should be provided with all relevant information and offered adequate support for self-advocacy appropriate to their age and circumstances. Children and young people who exercise their right to freely express their views must be protected from harm, including intimidation, reprisals, victimisation and violation of their right to privacy. Children and young people should always be fully informed of the scope of their participation, including the limitations on their involvement, the expected and actual outcomes of their participation and how their views were ultimately considered.
The Recommendation requires member States to protect and promote children’s right to participation while also creating spaces for it. With the aim to maximise opportunities for all children and young people to participate in all matters affecting them, member States shall “support children and young people and their organisations to participate in the monitoring of […] the implementation of the relevant Council of Europe instruments and other international standards on children’s rights.”
Accordingly, involvement of children in the work of the Lanzarote Committee is welcomed. This was tested in the 2nd monitoring round of the Lanzarote Convention and supported by an Implementation Package which is available here. The contributions received by children are available here. These were taken into account by the Lanzarote Committee in the first chapter of its implementation report on “The protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse facilitated by information and communication technologies: addressing the challenges raised by child self-generated sexual images and/or videos”.