Children and young people’s participation rights: Looking backwards and moving forwards

Christina McMellon, E Kay M Tisdall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children and young people’s participation is an ever-growing demand. Thirty years on from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’s adoption, however, fundamental challenges continue for participation that are widely recognised cross-nationally but remain stubbornly consistent. As a way in to considering the children and young people’s participation literature more generally, all articles referring to participation in their titles were identified from The International Journal of Children’s Rights. These 56 articles were analysed to identify trends, challenges and opportunities. The analysis found: a remarkably consistent narrative on participation over the thirty years; limitations on domains considered, geography and conceptual clarity; and far more written about challenges than solutions. Drawing on these findings and considering the participation literature more generally, the article recommends that the field expands its geographic and intellectual boundaries, uses powerful concepts like agency, competency and autonomy with greater precision, and explores fresh ideas like child protoganism, activism and children as human rights defenders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-182
JournalThe International Journal of Children's Rights
Issue number1
Early online date10 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2020


  • children
  • childhood
  • young people
  • youth
  • participation
  • activism
  • activists
  • children's rights


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