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Print this pageNEW ZEALAND: Local Government - Respecting the Rights of our Children




UNICEF - New Zealand

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Publication (general)


Aaron Irving

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The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (“UNCROC” or “Convention”) is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. UNICEF NZ (“UNICEF”) believes that its principles reach beyond central government and require that local government give effect to the rights contained in the Convention.

Local government is empowered by the Local Government Act 2002 which is a broadly drafted and empowering piece of legislation. UNICEF believes that in applying its provisions, local government should presume that Parliament did not intend to legislate contrary to its international obligations and should interpret the provisions of the Act consistently with the principles contained in UNCROC.

Not only do the principles of UNCROC constitute customary international law which is binding in New Zealand, our judiciary has established that rights like those contained in UNCROC must be taken into account when decisions are made that affect children.

Furthermore, as an agent of central government, UNICEF contends that local government has an obligation not to derogate from the principles by which central government is bound. This includes the principles set out in UNCROC.

Aside from the legal justifications for doing so, UNICEF believes that local government has a moral imperative to give effect to the principles of the Convention. To do so would represent a significant step forward in the progressive implementation of UNCROC in New Zealand and would serve to illustrate that as a good international citizen New Zealand is acting in accordance with the spirit and intent of the Convention.

As Dennis McKinlay, the Executive Director of UNICEF stated when commenting on the impact of local government decisions on children:

“Local authorities are on the front line and with trends towards urbanization and government centralization they are primary actors in matters affecting children’s lives. Human skills, knowledge, creativity and time, along with the wisdom to use resources in the community effectively and appropriately, are basic to an effective child friendly approach.”

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UNICEF - New Zealand

Last updated 01/10/2010 02:33:35

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

Your Feedback

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Marga wrote on 14/04/2012:
Definitely, I agree with you, Jeng Pascua Rosales.

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JENG PASCUA ROSALES wrote on 21/12/2010:
Children’s rights and the state of well-being are of concern to every government worldwide. Regular reporting and monitoring must be undertaken. In all cases, a documented approach would mean fulfilling developmental targets regarding children. The government should establish/construct an easy and friendly monitoring system. It is nice to know that a government is a Child-Friendly Government, but laws to define this must be considered, and budgetary resources must be set aside for the fulfillment of children's rights. The phenomenon being measured is the effort made by governments in terms of the inputs they have channelled for the benefit of children and the outcomes they have achieved in providing for children’s needs.

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