‘Making Children’s Rights Real': Lessons from Policy Networks and Contribution Analysis

Andressa Gadda, E Kay M Tisdall, Juliet Harris, Elizabeth Millership

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the most ratified human rights convention in the world. There has been considerable progress in terms of incorporating these rights into domestic law, regional and local policies, and these rights are promoted in a host of projects and activities. However, cross-national research continues to show gaps in implementation and how particular rights are being enacted, claimed and realised in children’s lives. This article draws on theoretical developments on policy networks and Contribution Analysis (a theory-based model used to monitor and evaluate programmes) to examine and evaluate advocacy for children’s human rights. With the normative valuing of children’s human rights, such theoretical developments are rarely applied to advocacy – yet their practical, evidenced concepts have much to contribute. This article applies such concepts to recent developments in children’s human rights in Scotland. With the official national commitment to ‘making rights real’, Scotland is a fertile test case to examine what strategies are likely – or not likely – to result in embedding children’s rights legally and practically in their lives. The article concludes that successful advocacy needs to pay attention to which key actors are included or excluded from networks, to anticipate disruption and strategise accordingly, and to recognise the key role of the person who manages the network. Contribution Analysis adds attention to how policy is made and the benefits of collectively identifying a theory of change that can be monitored, modified and improved. Collaboration, dialogue and trust can ensure such a theory of change is ultimately successful: these require both attention to emotional connections and impact as well as evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392–407
Number of pages16
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Issue number3
Early online date16 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jan 2019


  • children's rights
  • human rights
  • advocacy
  • policy networks
  • contribution analysis


Dive into the research topics of '‘Making Children’s Rights Real': Lessons from Policy Networks and Contribution Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this