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date: 02 June 2020

Poverty and Children’s Rights

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses the ever-deepening relationship between child poverty and child rights. In doing so, it takes as its central focus the best known and most important child rights instrument, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The chapter opens with a justification of why, given the range of different approaches available to and adopted by anti-poverty practitioners and scholars, child rights is an appropriate lens through which to consider child poverty. The chapter then moves on to consider the relationship between the CRC and child poverty, focusing both on the Convention itself and on how that instrument has been interpreted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee) when considering causes and impacts of, and responses to, child poverty. In doing so, the chapter provides a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the current international child rights framework in terms of its ability to address the complex social global challenge of child poverty. It concludes with a consideration of a key contemporary development in terms of child poverty that presents both risks and opportunities in child rights terms: the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Keywords: children’s rights, poverty, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Sustainable Development Goals, capabilities, well-being

1 Introduction

An October 2016 report from the World Bank Group and UNICEF estimated that, in 2013, 19.5 percent of children in developing countries lived in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day.1 Not only did the report make clear the appalling living conditions experienced by children in many countries, it also demonstrated that children as a social group are disproportionately affected by poverty, with children more than twice as likely as adults to be living in households experiencing extreme poverty. Recent overviews of poverty in wealthy countries also reveal a grim picture, with a 2017 UNICEF Innocenti Centre report finding that one in five children in forty-one high-income countries lived in relative income poverty, with one in eight facing food insecurity.2

Findings like these have resulted in ever-more strident calls for action to address child poverty. A range of key policy and child rights actors have argued for greater investment in children in response to child poverty—whether expressed in terms of investment in child rights,3 equity for children,4 or social and economic development for children.5 Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as the International Labour Organization, have emphasized the importance of social protection to reducing and preventing child poverty.6 This groundswell of activity has been in part motivated and in part complemented by the growing global recognition of the severe impact on children’s living conditions resulting from the financial and economic crises that began in 2007–2008 and the fiscal austerity measures implemented in their wake by a large number of states.7

This overlaps with one of the most notable developments in terms of anti-child-poverty work over the past twenty years, namely, a significant increase in the use of children’s rights in defining, measuring, and developing responses to child poverty. While many such efforts, including those employed by UNICEF,8 have focused on the UN Convention on (p. 406) the Rights of the Child (CRC), others, such as the 2017 African Agenda for Children 2040 and the 2013 EU Commission Recommendation on Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage, have also referred to the child rights contained in regional child rights instruments.9 Even anti-poverty actors such as the World Bank, whose “agnosticism” on human rights is well known, have taken steps to incorporate a child rights element in their anti-poverty work.10

While definitions, methods of identification, and measures of child poverty vary significantly,11 there is a growing recognition that an exclusively monetary or income-based concept of poverty fails to capture the reality of the multifaceted nature of poverty (which, in turn, requires a multidimensional approach to the conceptualization and measure of such). Such a multidimensional understanding of poverty has been embraced by the United Nations,12 UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies,13 and other authoritative human rights actors.14 Consistent with that approach, the definition of poverty employed in this chapter is provided by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. That body describes poverty as “a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.”15

This chapter addresses the ever-deepening relationship between child poverty and child rights. In doing so, it takes as its central focus the best known and most important child rights instrument, the CRC. The chapter opens with a justification of why, given the range of different approaches available to and adopted by anti-poverty practitioners and scholars, child rights is an appropriate lens through which to consider child poverty. It then moves on to the relationship between the CRC and child poverty, concentrating both on the Convention itself and on how that instrument has been interpreted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee) when considering causes, impacts, and responses to child poverty. This includes an especial focus on the CRC Committee’s approach to the right to an adequate standard of living. In doing so, the chapter provides a critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the current international child rights framework in terms of its ability to address the complex, social global challenge of child poverty. It concludes with a discussion of a key contemporary development in terms of child poverty that presents both risks and opportunities in child rights terms: the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda.

2 Child Rights Anti-Poverty Work: Part of a Broader Picture

Child rights is certainly not the only possible analytical framework for the identification, diagnosis, and development of responses to child poverty. Concepts such as capabilities,16 basic needs,17 and well-being18 have been employed frequently in this context. However, (p. 407) while well-being and the capability approaches in particular have been highly significant in relation to conceptualising poverty and designing anti-poverty initiatives in recent years, this has not necessarily been at the expense of child rights; there is a growing tendency for child rights, capabilities, and well-being frameworks to be employed in tandem in both scholarship and policy work centered on child poverty and social justice (though this remains a far from uniform or inevitable practice).19

Such simultaneous engagement with different “lenses” in anti-poverty work is unsurprising given clear overlaps between the concerns and concepts shared by scholar and policymaker proponents of these different approaches—for instance, the achievement of poverty reduction, the advancement of human development and human flourishing, and the protection of human dignity—as well as the close relationship between these approaches explored in detail in the work of those championing them. For instance, the capability approach can be seen as providing a theoretical account of children’s rights.20 Alternatively, child rights can be viewed as justification for the identification of specific capabilities as part of the capability approach in a child-related context, or the realization of child rights can be seen as providing such capabilities.21 Simultaneously (or alternatively), children’s rights can be viewed as corresponding to domains that can be used to measure child well-being.22 In turn, well-being can also be seen as a way of fleshing out different elements of the CRC, such as the best interests principle.23 The realization of children’s rights can be viewed as contributing to children’s well-being24 and expanding their capability(ies)—and vice versa. This is by no means an exhaustive account of how these different frameworks may interplay in relation to child poverty, but it makes clear that insights from the capability approach, with its focus on “freedom” and “functionings,” and the well-being approach’s accommodation of multidimensionality have much to offer child rights work in the anti-poverty context.

It is also important to acknowledge that the use of a child rights–based approach to anti-poverty work is far from unproblematic—a fact that those who would argue for its use must acknowledge and address. At a general level, there are a number of powerful critiques of the human rights–based approach, including claims that the individual-focused, public sphere–centric, culturally biased orientation of the international human rights framework results in the prioritization of the rights claims of some groups over those of others, while completely excluding the claims of some of the poorest.25 Indeed, given the relatively recent acceptance of the notion of the child as rights-bearer and the traditional privileging of civil and political rights over economic and social rights within the human rights framework, using human rights as the perspective from which to analyze or design poverty-related issues or responses might seem to pose certain obstacles to addressing child poverty; if human rights fail to recognize and reflect adequately the lived experience and challenges faced by poor children in terms of their standard of living, health, and education, then such a framework seems of limited utility in terms of shaping and evaluating anti-poverty initiatives intended to address those issues. It should be noted, however, that those arguing in favor of a rights-based approach to poverty do not generally engage in such privileging of civil and political rights.26 Furthermore, human rights have traditionally been, and continue to be, primarily (p. 408) directed at states. This has resulted in the human rights framework frequently failing to capture non-state actors whose activities may be at least as influential as those of states in contributing to or exacerbating child poverty (for instance, such international financial institutions (IFIs) as the International Monetary Fund, such IGOs as the World Trade Organisation, and powerful transnational corporations).27

Looking specifically at the issue of child rights and poverty, the rights framework set out in the CRC has been accused of being Eurocentric,28 individualistic, and limited in terms of its recognition of the varying characteristics and experiences of different groups of children.29 From a poverty perspective, the CRC’s dominant approach of locating children in the context of families/households when it comes to the right to an adequate standard of living (Article 27) and the right to benefit from social security (Article 26)—key rights in terms of poverty reduction—serves to reinforce the perception that family- and household-oriented measures will necessarily serve to address child poverty. This is despite the fact that there are inevitably children who will not benefit from measures focused on adults (for instance, children living in child-headed households). The CRC Committee has more recently made clear that Article 27(3) (which outlines the state’s role in assisting parents and others responsible for the child to implement the right to an adequate standard of living) is not limited to measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child; its 2017 General Comment No. 21 on children in a street situation states that “[t]he obligation to provide material assistance and support programmes in case of need should be interpreted as also meaning assistance provided directly to children.”30 Statements such as this, as well as the application of the child’s right to be heard under Article 12 with regard to the design, implementation, and review of anti-poverty measures,31 including budget decision-making,32 make it clear that that the Convention envisages children themselves as being at the heart of policy and other measures directed toward the amelioration and/or eradication of child poverty.

The Convention also appears to address some of the concerns expressed with regard to the general human rights framework, particularly through its inclusion of both economic and social rights and civil and political rights (albeit that, as Article 4 makes clear, to some degree, the different categories of rights impose different obligations on states parties).33 The wide-ranging nature of the rights provided for in the CRC would seem to make it a particularly suitable tool to use in combating child poverty. Furthermore, while the CRC does not impose binding legal obligations on non-state actors, its provisions explicitly recognize duties and responsibilities imposed on agents such as parents and others responsible for the child in ensuring that their economic and social rights needs are met.34 In practice, the CRC Committee has been more proactive than many other UN treaty monitoring bodies in engaging with the issue of non-state actor responsibility, albeit not in a poverty context specifically.35

Ultimately the CRC provides an (admittedly imperfect) framework of child rights premised on an underpinning of legal obligations that are binding under international human rights law. This is not the case for the well-being or capability approaches. The rights set out in the CRC cover a wider range of issues than most major national and international indices of well-being,36 and the high level of ratification of the CRC37 (p. 409) means that its contents can be treated as the subject of greater consensus than the capabilities identified as part of different versions of the capability approach. These factors constitute strong arguments in favor of the use of child rights in child poverty work—even in situations in which the dominant paradigm employed is not that of child rights.

3 Child Poverty and Child Rights—Making the Connection through the CRC

3.1 Poverty in the CRC: Nowhere but Everywhere?

It is trite at this point to note that the word poverty does not appear in the Convention.38 It is also trite to note that child poverty constitutes a violation of a wide range of children’s rights under the CRC.39 Living in childhood poverty frequently either results from or causes a failure to secure children’s economic and social rights, such as the right to an adequate standard of living, to benefit from social security, to the highest attainable standard of health, and to education. However, it has a significant impact on their civil and political rights as well, with, for example, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights highlighting that poor children are disproportionately affected by maltreatment and neglect, with poverty serving as a risk factor for child abuse and child marriage.40 Poverty—whether absolute or relative—also has clear implications for children’s enjoyment of their participation rights in a range of different contexts, including education and cultural or social life.

That said, child poverty has been most often treated as principally engaging children’s economic and social rights; indeed, one commentator has gone so far as to describe children’s economic and social rights as a concrete set of responses to specific facets of child poverty.41 The strong linkage between addressing child poverty and ensuring enjoyment of economic and social rights under the Convention is reflected, inter alia, in the CRC Committee’s state reporting guidelines, where the request for information on “[s]tandard of living and measures taken, including material assistance and support programmes with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing, to ensure children’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development, and to reduce poverty and inequality (art. 27, paras. 1–3)” is located in the cluster on “Disability, basic health and welfare (arts. 6, 18, para. 3, 23, 24, 26, 27, paras. 1–3, and 33).”42 It is thus unsurprising that Article 27 on the child’s right to a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development has historically been the key focus of the Committee’s treatment of poverty—both in its General Comments and its Concluding Observations.43 This is consistent with the approach of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has made use of the right to an adequate standard of living set out in (p. 410) Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as a “catch-all” provision with regard to addressing poverty issues.44

3.2 Addressing Poverty through the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living

One way in which the CRC Committee has engaged with poverty via Article 27 has been by making the link between child “development” for the purposes of Article 27 and poverty. For instance, in its 2010 Concluding Observations on Sudan, the CRC Committee expressed concern that “the living conditions of children and their families in situations of extreme poverty massively impede the holistic development of children’s capacities, as envisaged by Article 27, paragraph 2, of the Convention.”45 Elsewhere it has highlighted the “severe negative effects of poverty on the development of children” in the context of ensuring the right adequate standard of living.46 The preoccupation with the impact on “development” in terms of Article 27 by poverty or material deprivation is evident also from the CRC Committee’s General Comments, with the Committee commenting that “[g]rowing up in relative poverty undermines children’s well‑being, social inclusion and self‑esteem and reduces opportunities for learning and development.”47

In its General Comment No. 20 on the rights of adolescents, the CRC Committee addressed head-on the relationship between an “adequate standard of living” and poverty, stating that “[t]he impact of poverty has profound implications during adolescence, sometimes leading to extreme stress and insecurity and to social and political exclusion.”48 In the same General Comment, the CRC Committee reminded states of the right of every child to a suitable standard of living for physical, mental, spiritual, moral development and “urged” them to introduce social protection floors that provide adolescents and their families with basic income security, protection against economic shocks and prolonged economic crises, and access to social services.49 In its next General Comment No.21 on children in street situations, again when discussing the right to an adequate standard of living, the Committee outlined a range of measures that states should take to address the structural causes of poverty and income inequalities so as to reduce pressure on and strengthen precarious families.50 These measures include “introducing tax and expenditure policies that reduce economic inequalities; expanding fair-wage employment and other opportunities for income generation; introducing pro-poor policies for rural and urban development; eliminating corruption; introducing child-focused policies and budgeting; strengthening child-centred poverty alleviation programmes in areas known for high levels of migration; and offering adequate social security and social protection.”51 In doing so, the Committee emphasized that mechanisms and services making material support available to parents, caregivers, and directly to children should be designed and implemented on the basis of a child rights approach.52

The CRC Committee’s use of Article 27 to address issues of poverty is further demonstrated by its frequent recommendations to states to “provide material assistance and (p. 411) support to economically disadvantaged families” in its Concluding Observations on “standard of living.”53 In the recommendations emerging from its Day of General Discussion on children without parental care, the Committee (having referred to Article 27) urged states parties to take all necessary measures to raise the standard of living among families living in poverty, inter alia, through implementing poverty reduction strategies and community development, including the participation of children.54 Other poverty-related measures that the Committee has repeatedly recommended in relation to giving effect to Article 27 in the context of its Concluding Observations include: the taking of targeted measures protecting children from the harmful impact of poverty on their development, health and education;55 ensuring access to clean water, adequate sanitation, food and shelter56 as well as education, social, and health services;57 the allocation of adequate human, technical, and financial resources to provide support to families;58 the provision and strengthening of infrastructure and/or multisectoral coordination;59 the establishment of a social protection framework or social security system;60 the elimination of regional disparities in terms of child poverty and rights enjoyment;61 and the collection of data and monitoring of trends in poverty.62 States have also been asked to develop and advance specific national initiatives, such as cash transfer schemes,63 the introduction of universal child benefits,64 the establishment of social protection floors,65 the analysis and development of policies to eliminate “pockets of poverty”;66 to implement legislation focused on social protection, social welfare, and ending child poverty;67 and to operationalize national plans of action for children and development programs.68

In urging states parties to implement poverty and development strategies and plans, the CRC Committee has stressed that these should be child rights–informed, centric, and compliant.69 It has also been concerned to ensure that such measures are not “top-down” in nature, making clear (as mentioned above) that states should encourage the participation of both children and parents in the development of poverty-alleviation strategies.70 Furthermore, the Committee has emphasized the importance of states parties engaging NGOs in dialogue, and civil society in general in the development of social policies in order better to understand the reasons for exclusion and to stimulate new ideas to raise the standard of living of vulnerable groups of children.71 This extends to holding targeted consultations with families, children, and children’s rights civil society organizations on the issue of child poverty.72

The CRC Committee has not limited itself to a consideration of the responses to poverty. An important root cause of poverty—disability—was addressed by the Committee in its General Comment No. 9 on the rights of children with disabilities. Here, the Committee stated that “poverty [is] both a cause and a consequence of disability” and reiterated that children with disabilities and their families have the right to an adequate standard of living.73 The Committee stressed the wide-ranging state measures needed to give effect to that right, including the allocation of adequate budgetary resources and ensuring that children with disabilities have access to social protection and poverty reduction programs in order to address the question of such children living in poverty.74 This emphasis on children with disabilities and poverty is unsurprising given the strong (p. 412) linkage between disability and poverty75 More broadly, the Committee’s Concluding Observations include recommendations on a wide range of other root causes of poverty, focusing on the inequitable distribution of resources resulting in poverty,76 including land,77 as well as tax benefits and social transfers.78 In a notable development, 2016 saw the Committee criticize specific national changes to tax credits and social benefits that impacted negatively on child poverty.79

The right to an adequate standard of living has also played an important role in terms of the CRC Committee’s consideration of child poverty in “crisis” contexts. Following the financial and economic crises of the late 2000s, the CRC Committee placed particular emphasis on states taking the steps necessary to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis on children.80 The same is true with regard to the food and fuel crises experienced by many countries in the second half of the 2000s.81

3.3 From Article 27 to General Comment No. 19: The Role of Budgets and Resources in Addressing Poverty

We can see clearly from all of this that the CRC Committee has developed an extensive practice with regard to poverty under the Convention, most notably through its approach to Article 27. Much of this work is relatively recent due to a past tendency on the part of the CRC Committee to neither consistently nor extensively apply Article 27 in either its General Comments or its Concluding Observations.82 However, the past few years have reflected a change in approach, with more regular and effective engagement with regard to both Article 27 generally and its poverty-related components specifically. Beyond Article 27, though as noted above, the CRC contains economic and social rights provisions, the Committee had historically neglected to engage with the obligations imposed by those rights beyond those related to health and education. Among other things, this resulted in a failure to provide crucial guidance to states parties, child rights advocates, and others on the content and scope of CRC Article 4, that is, the key umbrella provision outlining the obligations imposed by economic and social rights under the Convention, which provides that “[w]ith regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.”83

While the CRC Committee’s 2016 General Comment No. 19 on public budgeting for the realization of children’s rights is a significant advance in this area,84 teasing out a range of different obligations imposed by Article 4, there is still frequent misunderstanding and misapplication in child rights–oriented anti-poverty work of the duties derived from that provision, and of the economic and social rights under the Convention. It is hard to resist the conclusion that at least part of this is due to the fact that much of the discussion around child rights and poverty has been led by sociologists and economists rather than by lawyers. Indeed, even among child rights lawyers, the (p. 413) area of economic and social rights is relatively neglected—a fact that further contributes to the quality of engagements around child rights and child poverty from an economic and social rights perspective.85

General Comment No. 19 is also a major addition in terms of progressing the CRC Committee’s engagement with the legal, policy, and institutional reforms that are key to ameliorating poverty, in particular those related to budgetary inputs, outputs, processes, and outcomes. The General Comment “identifies States parties’ obligations and makes recommendations on how to realize all the rights under the Convention, especially those of children in vulnerable situations, through effective, efficient, equitable, transparent and sustainable public budget decision-making.”86 Children living in poverty are specifically identified as one such group.87 By addressing the relationship between rights realization and public revenue mobilization, budget allocation, and state expenditures, the Committee has provided crucial guidance to those seeking to address child poverty issues that are attributable to macro-economic and fiscal structures, processes, and policies.

A final notable element of General Comment No. 19 from a poverty perspective is its focus beyond the national, perhaps most evidently in its treatment of the obligation of international cooperation,88 with the CRC Committee stressing the “obligation of States parties to also foster implementation of the Convention through international cooperation.”89 The Committee’s exhortations that, first, states parties should demonstrate that, where necessary, they have made every effort to seek and implement international cooperation to realize the rights of the child and that, second, they should collaborate with other states’ efforts to mobilize the maximum available resources for children’s rights both have important implications for transnational anti-poverty efforts directed toward developing economies.90 They are also consistent with recent developments in terms of clarifying the scope of the obligation of international cooperation under international human rights law more generally.91 This recognition that child rights do not just have implications for state action in the national context builds on the Committee’s earlier statement that

in their promotion of international cooperation and technical assistance, all United Nations and United Nations–related agencies should be guided by the Convention and should mainstream children’s rights throughout their activities. They should seek to ensure within their influence that international cooperation is targeted at supporting States to fulfil their obligations under the Convention. Similarly the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization should ensure that their activities related to international cooperation and economic development give primary consideration to the best interests of children and promote full implementation of the Convention.92

Where a state’s anti-poverty efforts involve engagement with international development, finance, or trade organizations, it must take all reasonable actions and measures to ensure that such organizations act in accordance with the CRC in their decision-making and operations, as well as when entering into agreements or establishing guidelines (p. 414) relevant to the business sector.93 Indeed, it is crucial to note that states retain their obligations in the field of development cooperation and must ensure that cooperation policies and programs are designed and implemented in compliance with the CRC.94 This clearly applies to anti-poverty work also.

This discussion of the CRC Committee’s focus on supranational action and poverty would not be complete without mentioning a factor that may be both a positive and a negative in child poverty terms: namely, sovereign debt. While the Committee recognizes in its General Comment No. 19 that sustainable debt management by states, on behalf of creditors and lenders, “can contribute to mobilizing resources for the rights of the child,” it also acknowledges that “long-term unsustainable debt can be a barrier to a State’s ability to mobilize resources for children’s rights, and may lead to taxes and user fees that impact negatively on children,” thereby detrimentally affecting efforts to address child poverty.95 The Committee’s proposed solution is that child rights impact assessments should be carried out also in relation to debt agreements—an approach that is consistent with that being pursued by the leading UN actor working in this area, the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights.96

The CRC Committee’s growing attention to economic policy and child rights–related financing at both the domestic and the supranational levels is to be strongly welcomed from an anti-poverty perspective. In carrying out this work, the Committee has demonstrated a willingness to grapple with mechanisms and institutions that have a central role in terms of ameliorating poverty but which thus far have received far less attention in human rights law practice and scholarship than should be the case. There is, however, a key issue on the horizon that is set to dominate global efforts around child poverty over the next decade or so: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).97

4 Conclusion: A Brave New Dawn? Child Poverty, the SDGs, and Child Rights

Since 2015 the SDGs have been a growing focus for anti-child poverty discourse and practice. SDG 1, the ending of poverty in all its forms everywhere, includes a specific target to “reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions,”98 while the hunger, education and health-related goals include targets focused on addressing different aspects of child poverty.99 The SDGs also include state undertakings to address specific potential outcomes of child poverty, such as child labor and trafficking,100 child marriage,101 and violence against children.102

Child rights and the CRC are certainly not integrated into and across the SDGs in a consistent, comprehensive way.103 However, positively from a child rights perspective, (p. 415) the 2030 Agenda is explicitly grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties,104 including the CRC.105 Beyond the explicit textual reference to the CRC in the 2030 Agenda, much has been made of the overlap between the SDGs and provisions of the CRC by prominent actors in the anti-poverty field, for instance through exercises mapping the SDGs in child rights terms (including in the area of poverty),106 as well as through emphasizing the integration of SDGs into work around the implementation of child rights107 and the realization of child rights as an essential condition for achieving long-term development goals.108 In its own work, the CRC Committee has begun to refer to SDG target 1.2 (on reducing child poverty) and SDG target 1.3 (on implementing nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures) in relation to recommending specific measures to strengthen social protection and address child poverty when considering state progress with regard to Article 27.109

The SDGs serve as a crucial contemporary impetus and framework for discussions around child poverty. They should, if implemented effectively, result in actions and the mobilization of institutions and resources that will contribute to outcomes which advance children’s rights enjoyment in a range of areas. However, Agenda 2030 and its associated implementation processes also pose a range of challenges from a child rights perspective. First, while the SDGs and associated targets strongly echo language and elements of different provisions of the CRC, this is undermined by the narrowness of the indicators that are set to be used to monitor implementation, as well as by growing evidence that the implementation mechanisms will be neither child rights–sensitive nor compliant.110 More broadly, there are serious grounds for concern about the elision of child rights (particularly child economic and social rights) and the SDG agendas in such a way as to undermine the former. While there has been some acknowledgment of the risks that such an elision poses to human rights by some UN actors,111 the “synergies” between the SDGs and economic and social rights have been promoted by other UN actors in a way that has been insufficiently clear about the differences between SDGs and human rights (including children’s rights),112 as well as inadequately critical of the failure thus far to adequately incorporate child rights into the SDG implementation, monitoring, and accountability processes.113 Positively, there is evidence of an effort to ensure that an element of child participation is included in the work of the United Nations High-Level Panel Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN platform on sustainable development that has the central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda at the global level. However, it remains unclear to what extent the body charged with responsibility for managing this effort, the UN Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCYP),114 will be able to successfully ensure child participation throughout the HLPF’s work “on all matters affecting the child,” as required by CRC Article 12. Issues of concern include the ongoing lack of clarity with regard to the parameters of the role of the Major Groups115 and other stakeholders in terms of contributing to HLPF processes, whether through reporting or otherwise.116 Furthermore, given that the MGCYP’s scope applies to people under thirty, not only children under eighteen, it is unclear the extent to which the participation of different age groups of children will be prioritized and ensured within the MGCYP itself.

(p. 416) In addition, the SDGs threaten to perpetuate many of the factors that currently give rise to or exacerbate child poverty. This creates the risk that they may potentially contribute to the undermining a range of children’s rights. For instance, given the challenge that non-state actors and corporations pose to efforts to address child poverty and the ongoing failure of human rights law to capture or address human rights harms caused by such actors comprehensively and effectively,117 the central role envisaged for the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (which includes non-state business and IFI actors) is worrying from a rights perspective. Furthermore, the SDGs (and their associated financing model)118 have been rightly criticized for doing little to change “the broader policy ecosystem that perpetuates poverty and increases inequality.”119 Thus, while child rights have a significant potential role to play in SDG-related anti-poverty efforts, there is limited evidence of those rights having an impact at more than a rhetorical level. And there is a serious risk that the approach in evidence thus far in SDG implementation may serve to undermine child rights–oriented anti-poverty progress that has already been achieved. Ultimately, the SDGs are not binding in the sense that rights are. There is thus a serious risk that states and others who are challenged by the budgets of obligation and accountability imposed by child rights will embrace the language and processes of the SDGS (together with their limited accountability mechanisms) in such a way as to sideline child rights in future anti-poverty work. In turn, this would result in the conceptualization of anti-poverty work as a matter of non-enforceable development goals rather than legally binding rights.

This chapter has highlighted the significant progress that has been made in terms of moving forward the relationship between child poverty and child rights in both theory and in law. Given that, critical engagement on the part of anti-poverty, child rights scholars and practitioners is crucial to ensure that the SDGs and the challenges they pose do not function to undermine that relationship and progress in practice.

Notes:

(1.) United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Bank Group, “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children,” briefing note (October 2016), https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_92826.html. The data were based on feedback from eighty-nine countries representing just over 84 percent of the developing world’s population.

(2.) Chris Brazier, “Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries,” Innocenti Report Card 14 (2017), https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/RC14_eng.pdf; see also Bea Cantillon, Yekaterina Chzhen, Sudhanshu Handa, and Brian Nolan, Children of Austerity: Impact of the Great Recession on Child Poverty in Rich Countries (Oxford: UNICEF and Oxford University Press, 2017).

(3.) See, e.g., UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), General Comment No. 19 on Public Budgeting for the Realization of Children’s Rights (art. 4), UN Doc. CRC/C/GC/19 (2016); Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), “Towards Better Investment in the Rights of the Child,” UN Doc. A/HRC/28/33 (2014); UN Human Rights Council, “Rights of the Child: Towards Better Investment in the Rights of the Child,” UN Doc. A/HRC/RES/28/19 (April 7, 2015).

(4.) See, e.g., UNICEF, “The State of the World’s Children 2016: A Fair Chance for Every Child,” (June 2016), https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_91711.html.

(5.) Isabel Ortiz, Jingqing Chai, and Matthew Cummins, “Identifying Fiscal Space: Options for Social and Economic Development for Children and Poor Households in 184 Countries,” UNICEF Working Paper (2011).

(6.) International Labour Organization (ILO), “World Social Protection Report 2017–19: Universal Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” ILO flagship report (Nov. 29, 2017), https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_604882/lang--en/index.htm (For more on this point generally, see pps. 11–22.).

(7.) For more on the adoption of austerity measures after 2007–2008, see UNICEF Office of Research, “Children of the Recession: The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Child Well-Being in Rich Countries,” Innocenti Report Card 12 (October 2014), https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/733-children-of-the-recession-the-impact-of-the-economic-crisis-on-child-well-being-in.html; Isabel Ortiz Jingqing Chai, and Matthew Cummins, “Austerity Measures Threaten Children and Poor Households: Recent Evidence in Public Expenditures from 128 Countries,” UNICEF Division of Policy and Strategy Working Paper (Sept. 29, 2011; last revised Nov. 4, 2013), 1107.

(8.) See, e.g., UNICEF, “Poverty Reduction Begins with Children” (March 2000), https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/pub_poverty_reduction_en.pdf.

(9.) See the reference to children’s rights in multiple anti-poverty–related aspirations outlined in “Africa’s Agenda for Children 2040: Fostering an Africa Fit for Children,” adopted by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children and approved by the African Union Executive Council of Ministers in July 2017. See also EU Commission, “Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage,” EU Commission Recommendation, 2013/112/EU (Feb. 20, 2013), which recommended that EU member states “[a]ddress child poverty and social exclusion from a children’s rights approach, in particular by referring to the relevant provisions of the Treaty on the European Union, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, making sure that these rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.”

(10.) For a critical analysis of the World Bank’s approach to human rights in terms of its functionings, see UN Human Rights Council, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights,” A/70/274 (2015).

(11.) For useful discussions of different approaches see Alberto Minujin, Enrique Delamonica, Alejandra Davdiziuk, and Edward Gonzalez, “The Definition of Child Poverty: A Discussion of Concepts and Measurements,” Childhood 18, no. 2 (October 2006): 481–500; Alberto Minujin and Shailen Nandy, eds., Global Child Poverty and Well-Being: Measurements, Concepts, Policy and Action (Bristol, UK: Policy Press, 2012); Gerry Redmond, “Poverty and Social Exclusion,” in Handbook of Child Well-Being: Theories, Methods and Policies in Global Perspective, ed. Asher Ben-Arieh, Ferran Casas, Ivar Frønes, and Jill E. Korbin (Amsterdam: Springer, 2014), 1387–1426.

(12.) See, e.g., UN General Assembly, Resolution 61/146 on the Rights of the Child, para. 46, G.A. Res. 61/146, 61st Sess., UN Doc. A/RES/61/146 (Dec. 19, 2006).

(13.) See, e.g., UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, “Statement on Poverty and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights,” UN Doc. E/C.12/2001/10 (2001).

(14.) See, e.g., the definition of “extreme poverty” employed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights inOHCHR, “Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights,” 2, https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/OHCHR_ExtremePovertyandHumanRights_EN.pdf (accessed Aug. 25, 2019).

(15.) UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, “Statement on Poverty.”

(16.) For a useful overview of the most prominent accounts of the capability approach(es) see Martha Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).

(17.) For a discussion of the basic needs, approach, see the World Bank, “Monitoring Global Poverty: Report of the Commission on Global Poverty,” World Bank Report No. 110040 (Oct. 18, 2016), 124–133.

(18.) See, e.g., UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, “Child Poverty in Perspective: An Overview of Child Well-Being in Rich Countries,” Innocenti Report Card 7 (2007). It should be noted, however, that understandings of child well-being vary significantly. For more see June Statham and Elaine Chase, “Childhood Wellbeing: A Brief Overview,” Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre Briefing Paper 1 (August 2010), http://www.cwrc.ac.uk/documents/CWRC_Briefing_paper.pdf.

(19.) For examples of work addressing the relationship between children’s rights and the capability approach in the context of social justice and child poverty see, e.g., Mario Biggeri and Ravi Karkara, “Transforming Children’s Rights into Real Freedom: A Dialogue between Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach from a Life Cycle Perspective,” in Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach: Challenges and Prospects, ed. Daniel Stoecklin and Jean-Michael Bonvin (Amsterdam: Springer, 2014), 19–41. For an example of work addressing the relationship between child well-being and the capability approach in this context, see, e.g., Mario Biggeri and Santosh Merhotra, “Child Poverty as Capability Deprivation: How to Choose Domains of Child Well-being and Poverty,” In Children and the Capability Approach, ed. Mario Biggeri, Jérôme Ballet, and Flavio Comim (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 46–75. For an example of work addressing the relationship between child well-being and child rights in the same context, see Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “Doing Better for Children” (2009), https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/doing-better-for-children_9789264059344-en#page1.

(20.) Rosalind Dixon and Martha Nussbaum, “Children’s Rights and a Capabilities Approach: The Question of Special Priority,” Cornell Law Review 97, no. 3 (2012): 549–593.

(21.) For more see Noam Peleg, “Reconceptualising the Child’s Right to Development: Children and the Capability Approach,” International Journal of Children’s Rights 21, no. 3 (2013): 523–542.

(22.) For an example of the use of the capability approach to measure child well-being (as well as a consideration of the use of CRC rights in determining domains of well-being), see Biggeri and Merhotra, “Child Poverty.”

(23.) See Laura Camfield, Natalia Streuli, and Martin Woodhead, “What’s the Use of ‘Well-Being’ in Contexts of Child Poverty? Approaches to Research, Monitoring and Children’s Participation,” International Journal of Children’s Rights 17, no. 1 (2009): 65–109.

(24.) Jaap Doek, “Child Well-Being: Children’s Rights Perspective,” in Ben-Arieh et al., Handbook of Child Well-Being, 187–217.

(25.) For instance, the individualist focus of the human rights framework often fails to take into account group or collective rights and does not properly acknowledge the strong link between the individual and the community in which they are based. Jonathan Ensor, “Linking Rights and Culture: Implications for Rights-Based Approaches,” in Reinventing Development? Translating Rights-Based Approaches from Theory into Practice, ed. Paul Gready and Jonathan Ensor (London: Zed Books, 2005), 254–277; For a comprehensive analysis of objections about the Western orientation of international human rights law and a discussion of non-Western rights discourses, see Eva Brems, Human Rights: Universality and Diversity (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 2001).

(26.) See, e.g., the holistic approach to human rights demonstrated in UN Human Rights Council, “Extreme Poverty and Human Rights,” UN Doc. A/HRC/RES/35/19 (June 22, 2017), the preamble of which emphasizes “that respect for all human rights—civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights—which are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated, is of crucial importance for all policies and programmes to effectively fight extreme poverty at the local and national levels.”

(27.) For authoritative accounts of the application of international human rights standards to non-state actors, see, e.g., Jan Hessbruegge, “Human Rights Violations Arising from Conduct of Non-State Actors,” Buffalo Human Rights Law Review 21 (March 2005): 21–88; John H. Know, “Horizontal Human Rights Law,” American Journal of International Law 102, no. 1 (2008): 1–27; UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 24 on State Obligations under the ICESCR in the Context of Business Activities, UN Doc. E/C.12/GC/24 (2017).

(28.) For a critique of the cultural bias of the UN CRC see Vanessa Pupavac, “The Infantilisation of the South and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Human Rights Law Review 3, no. 2 (1998): 3–8.

(29.) For a discussion of the limited image of “the child” reflected in the CRC see Michael Freeman, “The Future of Children’s Rights,” Children and Society 14, no. 4 (September 2000): 277–293, 282–285.

(30.) U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. 2017. General Comment No. 21 (2017) on Children in Street Situations, UN Doc. CRC/C/GC/21 (2017), para. 49. While the Committee flagged the “particular relevance” of this aspect of 27(3) for children in street situations “with non-existent or abusive family connections,” it is clear that this obligation of direct provision to the child may go beyond this to include situations such as those in which children are living in situations with family or others legally responsible for them who may not be in a position to provide nutrition, clothing, and housing due to parental incapacity resulting from severe disability or chronic illness, for example.

(31.) This is made clear in General Comment No. 12 and the Committee’s statement that the views expressed by children “should be considered in decision-making, policymaking and preparation of laws and/or measures as well as their evaluation.” CRC Committee, General Comment No. 12: The Right of the Child to Be Heard, UN Doc. CRC/C/GC/12 (2009), para. 12.

(32.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 19, paras. 52–56.

(33.) See, e.g., UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), G.A. Res. 44/25, 44th Sess., UN Doc. A/RES/44/25 (1989), art. 4. The obligations imposed by this article are fleshed out in detail in the Committee’s General Comment No. 5 on general measures of implementation and General Comment No. 19 on public budgeting for the realization of children’s rights. For a critical analysis of the Committee’s approach to Article 4, see Aoife Nolan, “Children’s Economic and Social Rights,” in International Law on the Rights of the Child, ed. Ton Liefaard, Ursula Kilkelly, and Stephen Hoadley (Amsterdam: Springer, 2018), 239–258.

(34.) See, e.g., CRC, art. 27.

(35.) See CRC Committee, General Comment No. 16 on State Obligations regarding the Impact of the Business Sector on Children’s Rights, UN Doc. CRC/C/GC/16 (2013), which was the first authoritative interpretation of any UN treaty–monitoring body of the non-state, actor-related responsibilities and obligations under a UN human rights treaty.

(36.) Laura Lundy, “United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Child Well-Being,” in Ben-Arieh et al., Handbook of Child Well-Being, 2439–2462.

(37.) The only UN member state not to have ratified the CRC is the United States.

(38.) For more on this point and the connection between poverty and CRC rights see Aoife Nolan, “Rising to the Challenge of Child Poverty: The Role of the Courts,” in Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right: Law’s Duty to the Poor, vol. 4, ed. Geraldine Van Bueren (Paris: UNESCO, 2010).

(39.) UNICEF has highlighted that “[c]hildren living in poverty face deprivations of many of their rights: survival, health and nutrition, education, participation, and protection from harm, exploitation and discrimination.” UNICEF, “The State of the World’s Children 2005: Childhood under Threat” (December 2004), 15.

(40.) UN Human Rights Council, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on the Enjoyment of Civil and Political Rights by Persons Living in Poverty,” UN Doc. A/72/502 (Oct. 4, 2017).

(41.) Geraldine Van Bueren, “Combating Child Poverty: Human Rights Approaches,” Human Rights Quarterly 21, no. 3 (August 1999): 680–706, 681.

(42.) CRC Committee, “Treaty-Specific Guidelines regarding the Form and Content of Periodic Reports to be Submitted by States Parties under Article 44, Paragraph 1(b), of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” UN Doc. CRC/C/58/Rev.2 (2010), para. 36.

(43.) For more detail see Aoife Nolan, “Article 27: The Right to a Standard of Living Adequate for the Child’s Development,” in The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Commentary, ed. John Tobin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

(44.) For instance, post-2012, austerity measures (and other measures taken in response to the crisis) that have impacted negatively on poverty levels have been dealt with by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in terms of the right to an adequate standard of living under Article 11 (and, to a lesser extent, under Article 9 on the right to social security and the right to protection for the family set out in Article 10). See, e.g., UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “Concluding Observations on the Fourth Report of Iceland, Adopted by the Committee at Its Forty-Ninth Session,” UN Doc. E/C.12/ISL/CO/4 (2012), para. 16; UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “Concluding Observations on the Fourth Periodic Report of Portugal,” E/C.12/PRT/CO/4 (2014), para. 14; UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant, UN Doc. E/C.12/PRT/CO/5 (2012), paras. 16–17.

(45.) For statements in a similar vein see e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Georgia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/GEO/CO/3 (2008), para. 55.

(46.) CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Dominican Republic,” CRC/C/DOM/CO/2 (2008), para. 69. For further examples of the CRC Committee commenting on the negative impact of poverty/economic hardship/etc., on child development in the context of Article 27 see CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Venezuela,” UN Doc. CRC/C/VEN/CO/2 (2007), para. 65; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Norway,” UN Doc. CRC/C/MNG/CO/3–4 (2010), para. 46; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Tajikistan,” UN Doc. CRC/C/TJK/CO/2 (2010), para. 58; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Pakistan,” UN Doc. CRC/C/PAK/CO/4 (2009), para. 77; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” UN Doc. CRC/C/GBR/CO/4 (2008), para. 65; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Australia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.268 (2005), para. 57; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Sri Lanka,” CRC/C/LKA/CO/3–4 (2010), para. 60.

(47.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 7: Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood, UN Doc. CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1 (2005). para. 26.

(48.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 20: The Implementation of the Rights of the Child during Adolescence, UN Doc. CRC/GC/C/20 (2016), para. 66.

(49.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 20, para. 67.

(50.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 21, para. 51.

(51.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 21, para. 51.

(52.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 21, para. 51.

(53.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Combined Second to Fourth Periodic Reports of Guyana, Adopted by the Committee at its Sixty-Second Session (14 January–1 February 2013),” UN Doc. CRC/C/GUY/CO/2–4 (2013), para. 56; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Belize,” UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.252 (2005), para. 59; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Croatia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.243 (2004), para. 56; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Germany,” UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.226 (2004), para. 51.

(54.) CRC Committee, “Day of General Discussion: Children without Parental Care,” UN Doc. CRC/C/153 (2005), para. 659.

(55.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Norway,” para. 47; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Tajikistan,” para. 59; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Pakistan,” para. 77; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Djibouti, UN Doc. CRC/C/DJI/CO/2 (2008), para. 61.

(56.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Democratic Republic of the Congo,” UN Doc. CRC/C/COD/CO/2 (2009), para. 64; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Grenada,” UN Doc. CRC/C/GRD/CO/2 (2010), para. 50.

(57.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Indonesia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/IDN/CO/3–4 (2014), para. 58.

(58.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Mauritania,” UN Doc. CRC/C/MRT/CO/2 (2009), para. 64; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Bhutan,” UN Doc. CRC/C/BTN/CO/2 (2008), para. 57; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Eritrea,” UN Doc. CRC/C/ERI/CO/3 (2008), para. 65.

(59.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Bulgaria,” UN Doc. CRC/C/BGR/CO/2 (2008), para. 54; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Cameroon,” UN Doc. CRC/C/CMR/CO/2 (2010), para. 64; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Bolivia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/BOL/CO/4 (2009), para. 62.

(60.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Kenya,” UN Doc. CRC/C/KEN/CO/2 (2007), para. 56; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Togo,” UN Doc. CRC/C/TGO/CO/3–4 (2012), para. 62.

(61.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Germany,” para. 51; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Croatia,” para. 56.

(62.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Seychelles,” UN Doc. CRC/C/SYC/CO/2–4 (2012), para. 58; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Malawi,” UN Doc. CRC/C/MWI/CO/2 (2009), para. 61.

(63.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Liberia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/LBR/CO/2–4 (2012), para. 71; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Mozambique,” UN Doc. CRC/C/MOZ/CO/2.(2009), para. 69.

(64.) CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Bhutan,” para. 37; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Cameroon,” para. 37.

(65.) CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Suriname,” UN Doc. CRC/C/SUR/CO/3–4 (2016), para. 33.

(66.) CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Seychelles,” para. 58.

(67.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: France,” UN Doc. CRC/C/FRA/CO/4 (2009), para. 79; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” para. 65.

(68.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Portugal,” UN Doc. CRC/C/PRT/CO/304 (2014), para. 51; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Ukraine,” UN Doc. CRC/C/UKR/CO/3–4 (2012), para. 65; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Mauritania,” para. 64; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Oman,” UN Doc. CRC/C/OMN/CO/2 (2006), para. 54.

(69.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Burkina Faso,” UN Doc. CRC/C/BFA/CO/3–4 (2010), para. 63; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Cameroon,” para. 64; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Eritrea,” para. 64.

(70.) See, e.g.,CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Serbia,” UN Doc. CRC/C/SRB/CO/1 (2008), para. 59; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Philippines,” UN Doc. CRC/C/PHL/CO/3–4 (2009), para. 64; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Greece,” UN Doc. CRC/C/GRC/CO/2–3 (2012), para. 59.

(71.) CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Hungary,” UN Doc. CRC/C/HUN/CO/2 (2006), para. 47.

(72.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Second to Fourth Periodic Reports of Republic of Congo,” UN Doc. CRC/C/COG/CO/2–4 (2024), para. 65; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Combined Second to Fourth Periodic Reports of Sao Tome and Principe,” UN Doc. CRC/C/STP/CO/2–4 (2013), para. 39.

(73.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 9 (2006): The Rights of Children with Disabilities, UN Doc. CRC/C/GC/9 (2007), para. 3.

(74.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 9, para. 3.

(75.) See UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children: Children with Disabilities (New York: UNICEF, 2013).

(76.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Democratic Republic of the Congo,” para. 64.

(77.) CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Timor Leste,” UN Doc. CRC/C/TLS/CO/1 (2008), para. 61.

(78.) CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Canada,” paras. 67–68.

(79.) See e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” UN Doc. CRC/C/GBR/CO/5 (2016), para. 70.

(80.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Tajikistan,” para. 59; CRC Committee, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Sweden,” UN Doc. CRC/C/SWE/CO/4 (2009), para. 53; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Spain,” para. 37.

(81.) See, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Pakistan,” para. 77; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations: Djibouti,” para. 61.

(82.) Nolan, “Article 27.”

(83.) For a critique of the CRC Committee’s historic non-engagement with Article 4, see Aoife Nolan, “Economic and Social Rights, Budgets and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” International Journal of Children’s Rights 21, no. 2 (2014): 248–277.

(84.) For more see Nolan, “Economic and Social Rights.”

(85.) For examples of notable exceptions with regard to academic engagement with child economic and social rights obligations in a poverty-related context see John Tobin, “Article 4,” in Tobin, U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Commentary; Wouter Vandenhole, “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the CRC: Is There a Legal Obligation to Cooperate Internationally for Development?,” International Journal of Children’s Rights 17, no. 1 (2009): 23–63.

(86.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 19, para. 1.

(87.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 19, para. 3.

(88.) This obligation is set out in Article 4 and is referred to in a number of other provisions in the CRC (Articles 17(b), 22(2), 23(4), 24(4), 28(3), and 45). For more on this obligation see Vandenhole, “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”; Nolan, “Economic and Social Rights.”

(89.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 19, para. 65.

(90.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 19, paras. 36 and 37.

(91.) See, e.g., Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2013), https://www.etoconsortium.org/nc/en/main-navigation/library/maastricht-principles/?tx_drblob_pi1%5BdownloadUid%5D=23; Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 24 on State Obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Context of Business Activities, UN Doc. E/C.12/GC/24 (2017).

(92.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 5 (2003): General Measures of Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/GC/2003/5 (2003), para. 64.

(93.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 16, para. 48.

(94.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 16, para. 47.

(95.) CRC Committee, General Comment No. 16, para. 78.

(96.) See, e.g., UN Human Rights Council, “Report of the Independent Expert on the Effects of Foreign Debt and Other Related International Financial Obligations of States on the Full Enjoyment of All Human Rights, Particularly Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,” UN Doc. A/HRC/37/54 (2017).

(97.) UN General Assembly, “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” UN Doc. A/RES/70/1 (2015).

(98.) UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” Target 1.2 (emphasis added).

(99.) See UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” Targets 2.2, 3.2, 4.1, and 4.2.

(100.) UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” Target 8.7.

(101.) UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” Target 5.3.

(102.) UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” Target 16.2.

(103.) This is largely unsurprising given the historic failure of development goals and processes to integrate rights standards and implementation processes meaningfully. While the SDGs are a significant improvement on the Millennium Development Goals in terms of their recognition of rights instruments and issues, they are far from child “rights–proofed” in terms of language and implementation processes.

(104.) See UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” paras. 10 and 18.

(105.) The CRC is also explicitly cited as a key standard to be taken into account in fostering “a dynamic and well-functioning business sector.” UN General Assembly, “2030 Agenda,” para. 67.

(106.) UNICEF, Mapping the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (New York: UNICEF, 2016), 4–6.

(107.) See, e.g., European Union, EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (Brussels: EU, 2017), 5.

(108.) UNICEF, Innocenti Report Card 14, 4.

(109.) With regard to SDG 1.2, see, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” para. 71. With regard to SDG 1.3, see, e.g., CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of Romania,” UN Doc. CRC/C/ROU/CO/5 (2017), para. 37; CRC Committee, “Concluding Observations on the Combined Rourth and Fifth Periodic Report of Lebanon,” UN Doc. CRC/C/LBN/CO/4–5 (2017), para. 33.

(110.) For more on this see Aoife Nolan and Simon McGrath, “Submission to OHCHR Call for Inputs on the Protection of the Rights of the Child and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Children/2030/UniversityNottingham.pdf (accessed Aug. 26, 2019).

(111.) See, e.g., Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), “Report of the UN Expert on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights,” UN Doc. A/HRC/32/31 (2016).

(112.) See, e.g., UN Secretary-General, “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Convergent Agenda,” UN Doc. A/HRC34/25 (2016).

(113.) See, e.g., OHCHR, “Rights of the Child: The Protection of the Rights of the Child in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda,” UN Doc. A/HRC/34/L.25 (2017).

(114.) The UNMGCY self-describes as the “UN General Assembly–mandated official, formal and self-organised space for children and youth (under 30) to contribute to and engage in certain intergovernmental and allied policy processes at the UN.” UN Major Group for Children and Youth, “Who Are We?” https://www.unmgcy.org/about (accessed Aug. 26, 2019).

(115.) The 178 governments at the first UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 (the Earth Summit) adopted Agenda 21, which formalized nine sectors of society as the main channels through which broad participation would be facilitated in UN activities related to sustainable development (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/10132EGM-Summary_Comments_11May_final.pdf). These nine sectors are known as “Major Groups.”

(116.) Summary Expert Group Meeting, “HLPF 2016: Shaping the reporting by Major Groups and Other Stakeholders on Their Contribution to the Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda” (April 19, 2016), https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/10132EGM-Summary_Comments_11May_final.pdf.

(117.) For more on this point see Aiofe Nolan, “Not Fit for Purpose? Human Rights in Times of Financial and Economic Crisis,” European Human Rights Law Review 4 (2015): 358–369.

(118.) UN General Assembly, “The Addis Ababa Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development,” UN Doc. A/69/L.82 (2015).

(119.) Center for Economic and Social Rights, “Two Years On: Can Human Rights Save the 2030 Agenda?” (Feb. 15, 2008), http://www.cesr.org/two-years-can-human-rights-rescue-2030-agenda.