The UN Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC) has emerged as a central yardstick in assessing policies and practices concerning children. Norway has incorporated the convention in domestic law and performs exceptionally well in global indexes on children’s rights. However, the level of compliance and implementation by Norway with the CRC has attracted criticism and many questions can be raised about these global indexes. This chapter sets out this paradox and the background for the book’s key questions: What is the extent of implementation? Can we improve measurement? And what might explain the paradox? The remainder of the chapter explains the book’s mixed method approach and choice of themes; summarises the key findings concerning implementation (legal, qualitative and statistical); identifies cross-cutting concerns; and explores potential reasons for non-implementation in certain areas.
Global indexes are commonly used to measure a country’s performance, including on the implementation of human rights conventions. Such audit-like tools project neutrality and avoid the charges of anecdotal evidence. However, indexes suffer from multiple challenges, from the selection of themes through to the accuracy and regularity of data and comparability across countries. In this chapter, the authors aim to identify indicators that better capture implementation of child rights in Norway. The result is a dashboard of 25 indicators, covering life quality, standard of living, education, health/security, protection, liberty, discrimination, participation, and accountability. In addition to identifying indicators that are comparable, it places emphasis on data that is regularly collected and disaggregated across the country. The chapter shows that Norway performs well on a general level but there are serious challenges for selected groups or regions. Moreover, there is an urgent need for improved data, particularly on children’s civil rights and right to participation and protection from discrimination.
This chapter examines children´s right to protection against all forms of detrimental care, as outlined in article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and how the Norwegian political-administrative system has implemented this right. The authors present first the core elements of the Norwegian family service-oriented child protection system and discuss how this system approaches children and families in need of assistance. Secondly, they discuss if the system adheres to human right standards and identify five possible blind spots: the challenge of pluralism; wide-ranging discretionary practices; lacking professional education; insufficient protection of the liberty of the child; and lack of space for the voice of the child. We finally discuss whether children are sufficiently protected, and conclude that although Norwegian child protection services can be ranked high in an international comparison, there is significant space for improvement.
This chapter investigates how the rights of the child, in both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Lanzarote convention, are reflected in official Norwegian efforts to combat child sexual abuse and meet the needs of its victims. With a focus on the criminal justice system, the chapter analyzes law, policy and practice and seeks to shed light on how the rights of minors subjected to sexual abuse in Norway have been formulated, institutionalized and practiced. It argues that dilemmas exist in the balancing of the strong emphasis on and belief in legal strategies on the one hand, and the need for a multi-faceted approach on the other. It also points to challenges related to measuring children’s rights given the complexity of child sexual abuse.
This chapter evaluates the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Articles Art. 37 and 40) in the policy and practice of detention of children within the Norwegian criminal justice system. It covers three different forms of detention (pre-trial police custody, pre-trial court-ordered custody and detention as punishment) from a legal and empirical perspective. The chapter finds that Norway has, to a large extent, addressed many critiques from the CRC Committee, including on limitation of the use of detention, conditions for detained children, and the need for various law reforms. However, challenges remain in relation to time-unlimited preventive detention of children and conditions in police detention. Moreover, the authors highlight a cross-cutting challenge within Norway has – the near absence of specialization with regard to youth criminal justice, and conclude that there is a need for the further development of alternatives to traditional criminal justice detention.
Policing is critical for children’s security but police are also responsible for preventing and addressing crime by children and younger persons. This can raise risks from a human rights perspective, especially as children are more likely to come in contact with police due to their greater presence in public places. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets our various protections concerning arrest and detention, and this chapter examines their implementation in Norway in law but especially in practice. The number of children arrested has been steadily falling but significant concerns remain about specific police practices. Three stand out and are the focus of the chapter: racial profiling, use of solitary confinement, and detention for immigration. The chapter is cautiously optimistic on progress on some other areas but especially critical as to the lack of measurement and denialism in other areas.
This chapter examines the relationship between monetary poverty and the social wellbeing of children in Norway. Poverty not only has immediate material consequences for children but increases the risk of social marginalization and hampers future life chances. This chapter asks whether Norwegian policies are adequate in order to secure children decent living conditions; economically or materially as well as socially. Examining laws and conventions concerning the rights of poor children and empirical evidence of children's living conditions, it provides a partly mixed picture of progress and presents some of the dilemmas policy makers face when children's rights are implemented. Finally, measures to improve children's living conditions in Norway are presented.
The child’s right to an education should, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, enable the child to develop abilities on the basis of ‘equal opportunity’. Moreover, States are already required to provide, at least, childcare for working parents (Article 18). This article presents empirical evidence on the importance of child care for child development, and goes on to discuss whether Norway succeeds in promoting a well-designed child care policy. The author explores how children from various socioeconomic backgrounds are affected by enrolment in child care, and further discusses how the child care center can work to fulfill the child’s right to develop abilities on a basis of equal opportunity.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC) is incorporated in Norwegian law by the Human Rights Act. This chapter explores and analyse the legislative effect of this legal incorporation. It provides an overview of legislative amendments that the CRC has catalysed and cases in the Norwegian Supreme Court in which the CRC has been invoked. In several judgments, the CRC has been a central issue and the Court has divided over its interpretation. Drawing on the CRC committee’s concluding observations, the chapter also reflects on contemporary challenges in the implementation of CRC in the Norwegian legal system.
This chapter addresses the child’s right to participate in parental disputes by presenting the legislative developments and examining trends in judgments from the Norwegian Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal. Extending a dataset examining children’s participation in courtroom proceedings, it analyses the effect of recent amendments in the Norwegian Children Act which have strengthened children’s right to have a say in litigation concerning custody and contact in the wake of family breakdowns. The authors find that children are heard more often than before and that their voices are increasingly emphasized in such decisions. This represents a shift in how the child is viewed in case law, from interpreting the child as vulnerable and in need of protection to seeing the child more as a competent actor. These developments give rise to the question of how to balance the child’s right to protection and the right to participate in the consideration of the best interests of the child.
This chapter examines whether Norway’s law, policies and practice in the field of asylum are in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It begins with a discussion of Norway’s asylum legislation and interpretation of child-sensitive legislation. This is followed by analysis of migration-and-refugee policies and regulations and the implications of new regulations in the Immigration Act after increase in the migration flow in 2015–2016. Two contested regulations and their implications are especially analysed given increasingly frequent refusal decisions, and the forced return of young asylum seekers and families, usually following a stay at a holding or detention centre. The author finds worrying tendencies with the reversal of various children’s rights in the area of immigration. The analysis of the current state of children’s rights in the area of asylum has shown that the CRC is still far from being fully implemented in Norway.
The chapter addresses the rights and practices towards disabled children and their families in the lights of the UN Convention of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Although all articles in CRC apply to disabled children on equal terms with all children, a few that are of special interest in the Norwegian setting are highlighted. Drawing on longitudinal data, the chapter discusses issues related to a) growing up in a family environment b) family supports, c) inclusive education, and d) participation with peers in leisure and/or cultural activities. The analysis suggests that the outcome of current policies and practices for disabled children in these areas are out of keeping with CRC provisions and that access to services is paved with obstacles.
This chapter explores the realisation of children’s human rights related to sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics in Norway. When children explore their identity and sexuality in ways that challenge the heteronormative understanding of society, they can be met with a number of informal sanctions, such as discrimination, exclusion and bullying. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative evidence, the chapter examines discrimination, violence (including bullying and harassment), health, and education. It shows that even though Norway has come a long way when it comes to diversity and equal rights, significant challenges remains for children challenging predominant conceptions of gender, sexuality and sex development.
This chapter examines the realisation of human rights education in Norway, as defined by Article 29 (1) b) and d) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It examines 1) the legal commitments of Parliament, 2) efforts of the government and 3) data on outcomes concerning attitudes and prejudice against ethnic and religious minorities, children with disabilities, sexual minorities and Sámi people. The outcome evaluation also includes empirical data on bullying of children belonging to these groups. The findings suggest that Norway needs to review the effectiveness of its HRE, but also measure to what extent the teaching is effective in practice.
Malcolm Langford is a Professor of Public Law, University of Oslo and Co-Director of the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, Chr. Michelsen Institute and University of Bergen. A lawyer and social scientist, his publications span human rights, comparative constitutionalism, international development and investment, technology and the politics of the legal profession. He is the Co-Editor of the Cambridge University Book Series Globalization and Human Rights, coordinates the Forum for Law and Social Science, and leads a number of major research projects, including the UiO programme on the politics of branding the Nordic Model.
Marit Skivenes is a Professor in Political Science at the Department of Administration and Organization Theory at the University of Bergen, and the Director of the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism. Skivenes has written numerous articles on child protection systems, the role of welfare policies and practices, and legitimacy problems in modern states. Skivenes has directed a range of international research projects, and been awarded several prestigious research grants, including a European Research Council Consolidator Grant in 2016.
Karl Harald Søvig dr. juris is Professor and Dean at the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen. He has previously worked as a temporary judge at the district and high court. His research has focused on different forms of coercive measures within the welfare state, as well as rights of the children. He has authored a report for the government on the legal implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and chaired an expert committee drafting a new act on adoption (NOU 2014:9). His most recent project was PROVIR (Provision of welfare to irregular migrants) funded by the Norwegian research council and he is currently president of the European Association of Health Law (EAHL).