Although the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises procedural rights of the child in addition to substantive rights, it is rather silent on the fundamental right to an effective remedy. The concept of access to justice for children has nevertheless emerged in the past decades and manifested itself firmly in the international human rights and sustainable development agendas. Access to justice is grounded in the right of the child to seek remedies in case of (alleged) rights violations. It implies legal empowerment of children and access to justice mechanisms and remedies that are child-sensitive. So far, access to justice, with a specific focus on children, lacks careful consideration, conceptualisation and contextualisation in academic research and writing. This contribution explores the meaning of access to justice for children, as a right and procedural concept, and paves the way for the development of a more specific research and implementation agenda.
The phrase “evolving capacities of the child” appears twice in the uncrc, under articles 5 and 14(2) in the framework of parental guidance. Yet the term “evolving capacities” appears over 80 times in the General Comments of the crc Committee. This paper examines the Committee’s use of “evolving capacities” in its General Comments, suggesting that the term has been treated as an enabling principle, an interpretative principle, and a policy principle within the framework of the uncrc. A broad principle of evolving capacities has thus emerged under the uncrc that informs not only the framework of parental guidance, but the whole of the Convention. However, the crc Committee does not recognise “evolving capacities” as a general principle or otherwise under the uncrc. This paper examines why this might be, and concludes that more consideration needs to be given to the role of “evolving capacities” as a principle under the uncrc.