General Principles – The basis of the UNCRC

This section relates to articles 2, 3, 6 and 12 of the UNCRC and Section C of the Concluding Observations.


The government should:

  • Make laws to prevent age discrimination against children and young people under 18. This will stop them from treating you unfairly because your age.
  • Make sure that you are not discriminated against when trying to prevent terrorism or extremism.
  • Do more to prevent people discriminating against particular groups of children and young people.
  • Stop the negative stereotyping of young people in society generally, including in the media.

Best Interests of the Child

The UNCRC says that your best interests must be taken into account in all decisions affecting you. Government should, therefore:

  • Make sure this is properly put into law and in decisions that affect your life.
  • Give guidance to people making the decisions so they can act in your best interests.

What does ‘Best Interests’ Mean?  

Best Interests is a term that is used a lot by adults who work with children and young people, when making a decision about a specific child, in a particular situation. It means that they should take all different factors into account (eg health, safety, what you think about the situation, what other people involved think, your rights etc) and make a decision on what is best for you. This shouldn’t be influenced by things such as cost or what is easiest.

Your Right to Life, Survival and Development

  • The government should sort out the main causes of death in babies and children, including poverty and inequality (social class and minority groups).
  • Government should investigate the causes  when children die unexpectedly.

NICCY_PRINCIPLE-04_Character-01 - cropped.jpgRespect for Your views

You have the right for your views to be listened to, and to be respected when decisions are being made that affect you.

  • The government should introduce programmes so your voice is heard. They should consider your views when making laws, policies, plans and services.
  • They should listen to your views when making all decisions, including on discrimination, violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, the care system, sexual education, leisure and play, and any other issues that affect you. They should work hard to involve younger children, and those who may face particular barriers or problems, for example children with disabilities.
  • The government should discuss with you what could happen if they change the way legal cases are funded in Northern Ireland. They should make sure that these changes will not make it more difficult for you to get justice when you are being treated unfairly.
  • The government should establish a Youth Parliament in Northern Ireland to advise them on important issues affecting children and young people.
  • They should make sure that children should not only be heard, but listened to. Your views should be taken into account by professionals (eg teachers, doctors, nurses etc) who work with you.
  • The government should listen to your views on whether the voting age should be lowered from 18 to 16. If the voting age is lowered, the government should make sure you are provided with the education and support you need to decide for yourself who you want to vote for.

If you want to find out more you can contact a member of the Participation team