s South African Journal on Human Rights - Child participation under South African law : beyond the convention on the rights of the child? : current developments / case notes

Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-7203
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2126



The past 30 years have seen a dramatic increase in calls for an inclusive dialogue on children's rights. Roger Hart defines participation as 'the fact of being involved in the decision-making that concerns oneself and that concerns the life of the community in which one lives'. In the context of children's rights, the right to participate refers to every child's right to be heard and to take part in processes that affect their life course. Participation involves having a 'voice' (control of the process) and having a 'choice' (control over the decision). It often comprises four broad levels, which include (a) being informed about a decision that will be or has already been made; (b) being consulted for purposes of expressing a view; (c) having an opportunity to contribute towards influencing outcomes; and (d) making independent decisions (including the right to veto a decision already made by others) provided the child in question has the intellectual and emotional competence to do so. This is the meaning adopted in this article.

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