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An independent voice for children's rights in Europe? The role of independent children's rights institutions in the EU

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This article attempts to understand the distinctive role of independent human rights institutions for children (IHRICs) in Europe, in the context of the proposed EU strategy on the rights of the child. It begins by explaining the distinctive characteristics of IHRICs, their presence, location and organisation in Europe, and the role of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC). It goes on to examine their developing relationships, individually and collectively, with European institutions (in particular the institutions of the European Union, but also with reference to the Council of Europe). The article draws on observations of the annual conference of ENOC in 2010, and on interviews with members of ENOC. The article follows this with a discussion of how IHRICs may be understood as operating at the interface of regional, national, European and global mechanisms, and concludes with a review of current issues and some questions for future research.

Affiliations: 1: School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire;, Email:; 2: Department of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University;, Email:; 3: Children's Rights Unit, University Institute Kurt Bösch (IUKB);, Email:


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