Constitutional Protection of Children’s Rights: Visibility, Agency and Enforceability


While almost every state in the world has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is less consensus around the manner in which the rights protected by it should be protected in national constitutions. To say that a constitution makes provision for children’s rights is just a starting point: the extent to which a national constitution takes a genuine child rights approach will depend on the quality of the constitutional provisions in question. This article aims to provide a typology which can be used to assess whether the approach taken by any given constitution to the protection of children’s rights is in line with the child rights approach envisaged by the Convention by analysing individual constitutions along three separate spectrums. The Visibility spectrum measures how visible children are in a constitutional scheme; the Agency spectrum measures the extent to which children are considered to be independent, autonomous rights holders; and the Enforceability spectrum measures the extent to which children’s constitutional rights can be enforced.