Physical and mental integrity
Developing a Guide to good practice concerning the participation of children in the decision-making process on matters regarding their health
Acknowledging the need to recognise the evolving nature of the decision-making capacity of children also in matters regarding their own health, the Steering Committee for Human Rights in the fields of Biomedicine and Health intends to prepare a Guide, containing principles and good practices, to involving children in medical decision making. This will include consideration of the rights of the child, the rights and responsibilities of the child’s legal representatives, and the child’s interests interconnected with those of their family members. The Guide should primarily target healthcare professionals but should also be accessible to the children’s parents and/or legal representatives.
Strengthening children’s participation in the decision-making process on matters regarding their health
There are changes in the general perception of the autonomy and protection of children regarding their capacity to participate in decision-making. This is confirmed and endorsed by human rights instruments, notably the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognises that children are rights-holders with a progressively evolving ability to make their own decisions. However, on matters concerning their health and general well-being, there is uncertainty as to how the increased recognition of their decision-making capacity should be addressed. Finding the right balance between autonomy and protection is a challenge when considering that children’s rights are situated within a larger set of parental rights and responsibilities which also focus on their best interests.