Parliaments throughout the world are uniquely positioned to create real and lasting change for children. Parliaments can allocate resources for national budgets, shape and enforce laws that promote the rights of children, hold governments and civil society accountable, and represent the interests and voices of children to send the message that the well-being of children is the responsibility of all society.
Parliaments have an obligation to support and uphold children’s rights as articulated in many of their respective national laws as well as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 and entered into force in 1990, is the most comprehensive international legal instrument for the promotion children's rights and has been ratified more widely than any other human rights instrument. The Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes a mutual relationship between rights holders (children) and duty bearers (such as parliamentarians) and accordingly recognizes parliament’s role as promoter and protector of children’s rights.
Parliament’s three main functions (lawmaking, oversight, and representation) thus have direct relevance to the promotion of children’s rights. Parliaments can shape and adopt laws favorable to children’s rights; oversee and monitor government performance to ensure the executive meets its obligations to children; approve and allocate revenue to make sure spending for children is used properly; and as the principal representative institution within the state ensure children’s voices and interests are heard and adequately represented.