Youthlab comments on UN General Comment on juvenile justice

31 January 2019
Picture: Malcolm and Mo of the Youthlab during the feedback session. 

The UN called for comments from around the world on an important document on children’s rights. The youth of the Youthlab of Young in Prison reacted in their own style. 

The official term for the document is a General Comment, a sort of hand-out on how best to use the International Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The General Comment that the UN invited comments on, was in particular about children’s rights in juvenile justice and was last updated in 2007. 

Young in Prison was prompted to react - and who else can give better advise than youth themselves? That is why Mo, Bruce, Rochey and Malcolm of the Youthlab gathered to discuss the document: what does it say through their eyes? Is something important missing? 

The assignment turned out to be challenging, because the document is written in technical terms. Together, the youth chose terms and ideas that spoke to them and of which they felt a need to comment on.  For example: ‘What does the concept of ‘dignity’ mean to them? And: why is the awareness raising and training of professionals so important? They emphasised it always pays off to learn and look through the eyes of youth, and learn how the practical and lived world is always different from the one in books. 

Perhaps the most important finding of the Youthlab is how difficult it is to comment on a document like the General Comment. That is why their most important piece of advice to the UN was to make it easier for youth to comment on important texts like this. Otherwise, they say, you will lose their perspective, the very people the document is about. The Youthlab will keep on searching for new and creative ways to involve youth in important and international decision making processes. 

Curious to the full statement of the Youthlab? You can read our contribution here:  Youthlab_Comment_GC24.pdf

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