In recent years, there has been growing interest amongst policy makers, planners, and professionals in children’s participation, recognising young people as important agents in shaping development interventions. Many high-quality resources have been produced around this topic; children and urban planning; and children affected by crises including displacement. The table below presents a selection of these, a more comprehensive collection can be found at

Children’s participation

Global policy frameworks

Built interventions, co-designed with children affected by displacement, contribute to complying with the following global policy documents. While their contribution is broader, they specifically address the following aspects:

Article 2: non-discrimination: ‘The Convention applies to every child without discrimination, whatever their ethnicity, sex, religion, language, abilities or any other status, whatever they think or say, whatever their family background.’

Article 3: best interest of the child: ‘The best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children.’

Article 6: life, survival and development: ‘Every child has the right to life. Governments must do all they can to ensure that children survive and develop to their full potential.’

Article 12: respect for the views of the child: ‘States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.’

Article 13: freedom of expression: ‘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’.

Article 15: freedom of association: ‘Every child has the right to meet with other children and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights.’

Article 24: health and health services: ‘Every child has the right to the best possible health. Governments must provide good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food, and a clean environment and education on health and well-being so that children can stay healthy. Richer countries must help poorer countries achieve this.’

Article 27: adequate standard of living: ‘Every child has the right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and social needs and support their development. Governments must help families who cannot afford to provide this.’

Article 28: right to education: ‘Every child has the right to an education. Primary education must be free and different forms of secondary education must be available to every child. Discipline in schools must respect children’s dignity and their rights. Richer countries must help poorer countries achieve this.’

Article 31: leisure, play and culture: ‘Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.’

Article 32: child labour: ‘Governments must protect children from economic exploitation and work that is dangerous or might harm their health, development or education. Governments must set a minimum age for children to work and ensure that work conditions are safe and appropriate.’

Article 39: recovery from trauma and reintegration: ‘Children who have experienced neglect, abuse, exploitation, torture or who are victims of war must receive special support to help them recover their health, dignity, self-respect and social life.’

  • ‘We envisage cities and human settlements that … foster social cohesion, inclusion and safety in peaceful and pluralistic societies, where the needs of all inhabitants are met, recognizing the specific needs of those in vulnerable situations’ (2016, p. 5)
  • Para 34: … ensure … access to sustainable basic physical and social infrastructure for all, without discrimination, … commit to ensure that these services are responsive to the rights and needs of … children and youth … and others that are in vulnerable situations.
  • Para 67: … to promote the creation and maintenance of well- connected and well-distributed networks of open, multipurpose, safe, inclusive, accessible, green, and quality public spaces to improve the resilience of cities.
  • SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
  • SDG target 16.7: Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
  • SDG 4.a: Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
  • SDG 11.7: By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.

Refugee participation – or permitting refugees to take back control of their own lives – is fundamental to developing, or re-building, a healthy community. Through participation, refugees can regain influence and control over their lives which, in turn, will have a positive impact on the raising of self-esteem. Consulting refugees on matters such as house construction and layout, food preferences, or requirements to regenerate religious activities, can make a critical difference in the restoration of cultural normalcy.

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