ENOC and ENYA: Rights across Europe

Commissioner, Bruce Adamson, was previously the chair of ENOC, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children 2020-21.

Theoni Koufonikolakou (Deputy Ombudsman on Children’s Rights in Greece) is the current Chair of ENOC (2021-22).

Bruce stepped into the role following the ENOC Annual Conference in November 2020, which our office ran on the theme of Child Rights Impact Assessments.


ENOC is a network which includes Children’s Commissioners and Children’s Ombudspersons, who all promote and protect children’s rights as laid out in the UNCRC. There are representatives from 34 member countries who come together to share information and strategies.

As a member of the Network we take part in an annual programme that includes seminars, an annual conference, position papers and participation.


Adults in power often make decisions that affect people― such as laws and policies. When they do this, they don’t always think about the impact these decisions will have on children and young people.

A Children’s Rights Impact Assessment, or CRIA,is a way to include children and young people in a decision. It looks at the ways the decision might affect the rights of children and young people― both positively and negatively.

By doing this, it means people know what the effect of the decision on children and young people is likely to be.

What was agreed at the 2020 ENOC Conference?

Each year, ENOC releases a position statement on the children’s rights topic discussed at its conference. In 2020, that was Child Rights Impact Assessments.

These statements make recommendations to States and other authorities across Europe on how rights can be better respected for the children and young people within the countries ENOC represents.

2020’s statement covered Children’s Rights Impact Assessments (CRIAs) and Children’s Rights Impact Evaluation processes (CRIEs).

It made five recommendations:

  1. Require CRIAs and CRIEs to be conducted on law, policy, budgetary, and other administrative decisions to embed a child rights perspective.
  2. Ensure that the rights of individual children and groups of children to be heard and participate in the process are fulfilled when CRIA and CRIE are undertaken.
  3. Take all necessary steps to ensure that adequate resources, and other general measures for implementing children’s rights, are in place to support CRIA and CRIE processes.
  4. Ensure CRIA and CRIE processes are transparent, support better accountability for decisions made and indicate the extent to which children have influenced those decisions.
  5. Develop and expand knowledge and understanding on CRIA and CRIE processes.

An image of young people on the stage at the ENOC conference.

How are young people involved with ENOC?

Each year ENOC members choose an issue affecting children’s rights which they think needs special attention and consideration. Their objective is to explore the issue at adult and young people’s levels and to compare findings. The young people involved are part of ENYA, the European Network of Young Advisers.

The purpose of ENYA is to actively involve young people in ENOC’s annual work and to give them the opportunity to be heard at a European level. Scottish young people have been involved in ENYA for a number of years.

Our office supports ENYA, as it allows young people to:

  • express their concerns and points of views regarding their rights,
  • make their proposals heard, and
  • participate in drawing up common recommendations.

ENYA in 2021

In 2021, our ENYA group of Young Advisers are working on this year’s theme of Let’s Talk Young, Let’s Talk about the impact of COVID-19 on children’s rights, and representing Scotland within the wider ENYA Network. There are 17 ENOC Member Institutions taking part:

Member Institutions taking part

  • Albania,
  • Andalusia/Spain,
  • Basque country/Spain,
  • Bulgaria,
  • Catalonia/Spain,
  • France,
  • Greece,
  • Iceland,
  • Italy,
  • Malta,
  • Montenegro,
  • Norway,
  • Northern Ireland/UK,
  • Slovakia,
  • Scotland/UK,
  • Wales/UK,
  • Ukraine.

This year’s ENYA Forum took place online on 1 and 2 July. It was hosted by Malta, and two young people from Scotland took part to send on our ENYA group’s recommendations.

Who are our ENYA group?

Our ENYA group is made up of eight young people between 14 and 15, who are from different socioeconomic backgrounds and different parts of Scotland.

They’ve met several times online to come up with recommendations on what needs to change for young people while the coronavirus pandemic is underway. They mainly wanted to talk about education, the impact of the pandemic on mental health, and their lack of access to friends and social activities.

What are the group’s recommendations around education?

Everyone should have the technology they need

If schools close again, everyone should have the technology they need to work from home. Everyone should be trained in using this, including teachers, children, and young people.

Regular support

Teachers should talk to pupils regularly and offer support to those who need help.

Provide a timetable

Pupils should have a timetable of work so that they know what to expect.

If young people have to wear masks in school, so should adults

If the rule is to wear masks in school then everyone should wear them, including teachers― unless there is a medical reason why they don’t have to.

Use clear masks so deaf young people can understand you

Clear masks should be used so that deaf young people can take part too. NDCS explains why deaf children and young people can find face masks challenging.

It should be possible to do schoolwork outside

There should be opportunities to work outside, as social distancing in school is difficult.

What are the group’s recommendations around health?

Schools should provide mental health support

Schools should provide support for young people’s mental health through catch up, drop-in sessions or access to school counsellors.

Priority vaccination for young people with underlying health conditions

Young people with underlying health conditions should be vaccinated as a priority.

Free access to leisure facilities and gyms

There should be free access to leisure facilities and gyms so young people’s health can recover.

More mental health information and support needs to be available

More information needs to be made available so young people can know where to find mental health help and support.

Young people need clear information about coronavirus

Straightforward information about coronavirus should be available from a trusted source.

What are the group’s recommendations around participation?

Decision makers need to communicate clearly

Decision makers need to communicate clearly and effectively, giving young people information in clear form. They should wait until they can give 100% accurate information which won’t change, as sudden unclear changes in decisions affect young people’s wellbeing.

More consultation with young people

There should be more consultation with young people across all areas, but particularly on issues concerning school reopening dates, exams and support for mental health.

Information on how to participate

Young people should be told how they can participate.

Adults should listen

When young people are asked their opinion on something or asked to take part in surveys, adults should listen and take action in good time. They should also let young people know what they have done and why.

Opportunities for young people to make their views known

It’s young people’s right to have a say in decisions that affect their lives. Decision makers and schools should put in the time and effort to make sure that they create opportunities for them to make their views and opinions known.

ENYA in recent years