Tag Archives: rights

RightSpace: Holding on and moving forwards

Right Space Video Wall[Summary: If you're involved in promoting the rights of Children and Young People, and you're an advocate for youth participation, join in the RightSpace debate]

What is going to happen to youth participation over the next few years?

On the one hand we’ve a government promising massive spending cuts*; and on the other hand, quite genuinely (I hope) talking about localism and transferring power back to communities. Whilst the coalition agreement is woefully lacking in any recognition of the rights and agency of young people, some policy proposals are creating new spaces for civic engagement and participation – whether that’s from open data and transparency; or the encouragement of cooperative and social enterprise structures for the delivery of services.

Later this year, Practical Participation will be involved in an event, RightSpace, that’s trying to explore where participation has got to – and to look to the future of rights-based youth participation. My colleague Bill Badham is already at work heading around the country talking to people about their experiences of participation, their learning from the past, and their fears and visions for the future. You can see video clips from those conversations, join in the conversation, and find out more about  the RightSpace event taking place in Sheffield in October over on the dedicated RightSpace website.

Hope to see you there…


Footnotes
*I’m reading Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine right now, and feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the narrative of cuts being spun; so whilst questioning the spending cuts in this post – do think we need a far more critical debate about the arguments for ‘massive’ cuts – and some of the positive and ethical alternatives.

Protecting copyright at the cost of children’s rights?

Picture 18There is a lot of talk right now around the rushed legislation proposed by Peter Mandelson, and being consulted on by BIS, that would allow households suspected of illegally downloading copyright material through peer-to-peer filesharing or other methods to have their internet access cut off.

The way this proposal suggests leapfrogging legal processes of proof before action is taken against suspected offenders was a theme coming up in more than one of the MSc research proposal shared in my induction at the Oxford Internet Institute this afternoon – but one dimension which deserves added attention is the impact of the proposed legislation on the rights of children young people.

Although the UK Government has signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we still lack a systematic review of the way legislation impacts Children’s Rights – so the key voice pointing out the fundamental problems in Mandelson’s proposal is coming from ARCH – Action on the Rights of the Child.

ARCH explain in their response to the BIS consultation:

the tone [of the proposed legislation] has more to do with the interests of copyright holders than with the rights of children.

And in their analysis set out the ways on which a restriction on household access to the internet, impacts children and young people – and runs counter to government efforts for digital inclusion, and internet access as a key part of learning.

Children and young people have a right of free access to information (so long as that access does not harm them / others), and to cut off internet access, no longer just a luxury but a key element of modern life, because of the actions of some other member of the household, or accidental infringement by young people unaware of copyright laws, seems manifestly unjust and rights-infringing.

38 Degrees and the Open Rights Group are actively leading the campaign against this proposed legislation.

Article 13 and the miniLegends

alupton Twitter: Thanks to everyone for comments n support left at now closed class blog.I'm watching with interest on Twitter the unfolding discussion about the decision by the South Australia Department of Education and Children Services to ask for the closure of Al Upton's class blogs (the miniLegends).

Minilegends Blog

The miniLegends blogs were written by 8 and 9 year old students in Al Upton's class as part of their learning. Last year Al invited international edubloggers to offer to mentor members of his class by leaving positive comments on their individual blogs.

Sue Waters suggests the order to close the blogs was due to parental concerns over use of young people's photos:

What happened was a few parents became concerned over the use of student images on blogs and potential for cyberstalking because global adult mentors were interacting students. Al had followed all the right procedures and obtained parental consent.

Whilst ensuring young people's protection from significant harm is crucial, the United Nations Convention on the Rights balances protection, provision and participation rights – and as I watched the issues unfolding this morning I thought I should take a look to see what the convention might have to say. So, here's Article 13 from the UNCRC.

Article 13 (Freedom of Expression)

1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.

2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order , or of public health or morals.

Australia is a signatory to the United Convention on the Rights of the Child. It would be interesting to see how the Committee would respond to the sorts of limitations on young people's expression and information seeking that are becoming all to common because of parental or policy makers irrational fears of the unknown*.

 

(*I'm not saying all fears are irrational. There are rational fears and concerns. I'm only worried about the cases where fears that are actually irrational (i.e. don't stand up to rational scrutiny) are causing problems.

Disability and children's rights

I'm blogging from the opening plenary at the Civicus World Assembly. (Will try and post some notes and quick reflections as battery allows…)

Speaker Venus Ilagen from Disabled People's International has just put forward a challenge to ask whether the needs of, and accounability to, disabled children features highly enough in talk of Children's Rights, Women's Rights and in other rights dialogues.

Reflecting upon the recent UK draft report on the UN Convetion on the Rights of the Child – it strikes me that Venus has a strong point. An exploration of the rights, and excercise of rights, by young people with disabilities was not a strong thread in the draft. Do we give strong enough attention to the rights of children with disabilities?

Should we be looking at the recent UN Thematic convention on the rights of people with disabilities to see if it speaks to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and helps us draw a stronger focus on the rights of the most excluded of the most excluded?