The Child as ‘Democratic Citizen’ – Challenging the ‘Participation Gap’

Public Law, pp. 126-141, October 2010

22 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2010

See all articles by Aoife Nolan

Aoife Nolan

University of Nottingham - School of Law

Date Written: September 22, 2010


This article centres on the position of children as 'democratic citizens'. Incorporating discussions of key aspects of democratic and citizenship theory, it considers the ways in which children may interact with, and contribute to, the exercise of political power in democratic societies. Having briefly discussed the position of children vis-à-vis democratic processes, the author focuses on that provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which is arguably of greatest use in terms of serving as a springboard for children to input into democratic decision-making processes that affect them: Article 12 CRC. The author proceeds to consider the approach of the Committee on the Rights of that Child to children’s participation rights under the CRC, arguing that the Committee has failed to construe and apply Article 12 in such a way as to address effectively children’s exclusion from democracy. This gap in the Committee’s jurisprudence necessarily filters down into the practice of states. The article concludes by highlighting key points that should be borne in mind when arguing in favour of particular mechanisms and structures aimed at increasing child participation in democratic decision-making and hence strengthening their democratic citizenship.

Keywords: children's rights, child participation, Article 12 CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child, human rights, democracy, democratic participation, citizenship, voting ages, participation

Suggested Citation

Nolan, Aoife, The Child as ‘Democratic Citizen’ – Challenging the ‘Participation Gap’ (September 22, 2010). Public Law, pp. 126-141, October 2010, Available at SSRN:

Aoife Nolan (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham - School of Law ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

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