Recent years have seen an explosion in methodologies for monitoring children’s economic and social rights (ESR). Key examples include the development of indicators, benchmarks, child rights-based budget analysis and child rights impact assessments. The Committee on the Right of the Child has praised such tools in its work and has actively promoted their usage. Troublingly, however, there are serious shortcomings in the Committee’s approach to the ESR standards enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which threaten to impact upon the efficacy of such methodologies. This article argues that the Committee has failed to engage with the substantive obligations imposed by Article 4 and many of the specific ESR guaranteed in the CRC in sufficient depth. As a result, that body has not succeeded in outlining a coherent, comprehensive child rights-specific ESR framework. Using the example of child rights-based budget analysis, the author claims that this omission constitutes a significant obstacle to those seeking to evaluate the extent to which states have met their ESR-related obligations under the CRC. The article thus brings together and addresses key issues that have so far received only very limited critical academic attention, namely, children’s ESR under the CRC, the relationship between budgetary decision-making and the CRC, and child rights-based budget analysis.
This article focuses on both economic and social rights (esr) and child poverty. In doing so, it identifies and considers key developments and gaps in child rights scholarship (crs) in these areas. The authors’ treatment of these issues together is logical (albeit certainly not inevitable) given the strong connection between esr and poverty. Both are areas which have been under-explored in crs: esr have been historically under-theorised and marginalised in child rights research, whereas child poverty is an area that has received extensive academic attention but only a limited amount of this has been from a child rights perspective.
The article begins by outlining the state of the existing theoretical child rights literature on esr, before going on to consider the growing body of crs focused on specific esr-thematic areas. The authors make clear the historic dominance of law in terms of child esr scholarship while flagging the increasing esr-focused/framed work emerging from other disciplines, arguing that this is evidence of an ever-wider and more multidisciplinary engagement with esr. Moving on to the topic of child poverty, the authors note that, with some notable exceptions, there has been a failure on the part of child rights scholars to engage with child poverty, a fact that is at least partially attributable to disciplinary disconnects: while crs (and esr scholarship in particular) has come to be dominated by lawyers to a large degree, much academic work on child poverty originates in economics, development studies and social policy. There is, however, some recognition by child poverty scholars (and more so by practitioners) that child poverty is a “child rights” issue, albeit that there is an ongoing failure on the part of child poverty scholarship to really come to terms with the complexities of child rights in terms of the implications of such for the definition and measurement of child poverty. The authors conclude by flagging future avenues for academic engagements with child esr and child poverty, considering both the ways in which existing scholarship may be enriched as well as the potential dangers that new directions may pose in terms of child esr specifically.
The United Nations Special Procedures system is a key element of the evolving international framework for human rights protection and promotion. However, despite the system’s expansion, the range of roles and functions performed by mandate holders, and the mounting evidence of its strengths and limitations, there has been very little academic interrogation or analysis of Special Procedures. This lacuna is ever-more problematic given the growing profile and effectiveness of the Special Procedures’ work, as well as the increasing attention and challenges that they face, both externally from States and internally from within the UN system. Given the current ‘state of play’ of Special Procedures, it is essential that scholarly attention be focussed upon the system. How does it contribute to international human rights protection? How, when and why does it fail to do so? What steps can and should be taken to address shortcomings both within the system and in terms of the legal and political context within which it operates? Featuring expert contributions from key players within, and expert commentators on, the Special Procedures system, this volume addresses these questions in an in-depth and rigorous scholarly manner.