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Durham e-Theses
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The role of children in governance

Woollcombe, David Rupert (1997) The role of children in governance. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The subject is introduced with a review of the studies of youth citizenship by British authors, in which the transitions that a young person makes from dependency to independence are examined. A child is defined as a minor in British law, or any person under the age of 18 years. The thesis explores the history of attempts to involve children and young people in the governance of institutions which affect their lives and attempts to draw conclusions which may help in designing future attempts to do so. The various international agreements of the last seven years are reviewed in which governments agreed to confer on young people the right to participate in decision-making. Also analysed is the performance of the UN agencies that drafted those agreements in implementing them in their own projects. At this level, the culture of young people and that of large international bureaucracies are found to be seriously incompatible. It is also seen that most governments do not fully understand what they are signing in these agreements: none have fully implemented their commitments in fact. Examples of successful involvement of children in governance are found at the local level. Young people have formed impressive children’s councils in schools and municipalities in France, Austria, Germany, the USA and the UK. In the USA, several large companies have also experimented with children's boards, as have some foundations and non-profit organisations. In the UK, successful children's participation in governance is reviewed in relation to two councils, one in Derbyshire, one in Devon. Changes in UK law are also examined. The final section of the thesis examines the author's own experience in setting up and running an organisation that specialises in working with young people to create platforms from which young people can express their concerns about global issues. He traces the history of the organisation - how its first event revealed the potential of fruitful participation between adults and children, through the development of different projects to today where young people run every aspect of the organisation in partnership with him. From this experience, twelve principles for a methodology of children's participation in governance are proposed.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1997
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:39

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