Centre for Child and the Law:
In our constantly evolving world, we find that political democracy is steadily being eroded by modern forms of hegemony. This new world order is arising from the mediation, to varying degrees, by the military, the corporates and professionals such as engineers, physicians and scientists, in nearly every realm of social activity, and the dictate of market ethics in social policy. Even the face of human interaction and behaviour is being revolutionized and redefined through inroads made by information technology. In this speeded up and technocratic global context, issues concerning the child are often relegated to the back burner of development agendas. This is due to the fact that children are not recognized as persons, subjects or critical players in national progress.
Further this has been facilitated by the notion that problems relating to children were non controversial and should be seen as non-political in the power politics and standing above politics. As a result children have been placed outside the political agenda. This has often been the detriment of children, other interest have been given priority at the cost of children.
This public apathy to the needs of the child, coupled with the unequal distribution of social and economic power in society and the consensus that children are a 'property' of the parent or the State, have largely contributed to widespread violations against children. To combat these inequities, early political struggles sought remedy in the strength of human rights law, but an international sanction to safeguard the interest of the child was lacking. It was the year 1989 that saw the emergence of a new global ethic for children - the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This universal standard, ratified by India in December 1992 has also been ratified by all excepting two countries in the world.
The CCL believes that awareness and knowledge about the convention are important as a basis for implementation. Any rights can seldom be given; but however the question is they have to be obtained by those whom they are meant for. In this context that the UN convention on the Rights of the Child is of paramount importance .One of its main message is that the children should be put first on the development agenda.
The Advisory Body to the CCL consisted of The National Foundation for India and UNICEF India Country office along wit
h the Central and State government representatives from the Departments of Women and Child Development, education and Labour. Additional members have also been brought on board provided intellectual direction and programmatic feedback to the Centers. These members have been drawn from independent non-governmental organizations and researchers and individuals with outstanding experience in child rights issues.
While engaging with this legal instrument, the Centre for Child and the Law (CCL) found the CRC to substantially expand opportunities for governments and civil society actors to address the indignities perpetrated on children. The Centre also realized the need to deepen its own understanding of the way the CRC relates to Indian realities. It celebrated the progressive vision of this treaty, especially such as a child's right to autonomy, right to participation and the fact that it incorporates both civil and political rights as well as socio-economic cultural rights of the child. These have to be internalized by us as citizens and as a nation if we are to emerge as a society, which respects the human rights of children. CCL's organizational thrust is to establish these rights of the child within the Indian context, critique and go beyond these minimum standards where possible and actively engage with State and civil society actors to realize this radical vision.
The Centre advocates the need for a more accountable and responsive State. It argues against subsistence provisions for children in public policy and the quiet acceptance that budgetary constraints are grounds for the denial of the rights of children. It believes that a society that fails to address the root and structural causes of such violations and neglects to offer them the basic protections afforded in rights discourse, is a society that has got its priorities wrong. CCL also advocates for greater societal consciousness, to create a solidarity based peoples' movement to exert pressure from below. The underlying concern is to touch the lives of children and their families and communities, while strengthening the hands of those who strive to make child rights a reality.
The Centre for Child and the Law (CCL) was established on 1 April 1996 , in the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore . The idea to start a Centre was to further the vision of NLSIU to marry legal expertise with the social sciences, and was a spin off from the preliminary work undertaken in collaboration with UNICEF. It stemmed from a deep interest to place issues of the child at the forefront of public policy. Shortly after, in July 1999, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, conferred the Juvenile Justice Chair on NLSIU, which is occupied by Prof. Babu Mathew the then Faculty Co-ordinator, who has played a significant role in developing the Centre. This, along with the fact that CCL is located in a premier and autonomous Law University, has provided it with the opportunity to play a more strategic role in the arena of law and social change.
Despite the Centre being an extension programme of NLSIU, it has to mobilize its own resources. Initial grants and seed monies from funding agencies such as UNICEF and National Foundation for India (NFI) lent the necessary stability CCL required in the early years. To meet its infrastructural requirements, Child Relief and You (CRY) stepped in to fund the vibrant office space located on the first floor of the NLSIU building, where the Centre now operates from.
Since December 1999, having received funds from the Humanistic Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (HIVOS), the Centre was able to broaden its scope of work. HIVOS continues to actively support the work of CCL.
To institutionalize a child rights culture in our society that will enable children to live with dignity and respect.
CCL believes that the State has a duty to meet the needs of every Indian child, with priority given to the most marginalized. However, as an actor of civil society CCL feels it has a responsibility to supplement efforts made by the State to safeguard the interest of children and work in constructive, critical collaboration with the state and civil society towards realizing this common goal.
While building the Center the aim was to develop a space where research focuses on building linkages between the globalization process and the violation of child rights and which can enable the development of a South based jurisprudence which centers around the use of education as a strategy to combat the exploitation of children. The Center aimed at critically examining the law and policies and monitoring their implementation as well. Capacity building with a child rights perspective of various stakeholders including government functionaries involved with either the implementation or monitoring of laws related to children, has been one of the core activity of CCL.
To deepen perspective and promote capacity building on child rights and to integrate modules on child rights in the curricula of various professional courses.
To facilitate the full implementation of the UN CRC
To contribute to the development of a comprehensive legal framework for children through a Child Code that will also influence system and law reform
To contribute to efforts aimed at lobbying for effective monitoring mechanisms such as the Children's Commission
To evolve and support effective service delivery and response systems for children, their families and communities
To bridge the gaps and promote solidarity partnerships between disciplines, academia, local communities ,social movements and civil society at large for mutual benefit and aimed at the best interests of children.
To serve as a resource pool on child related issues
To help shape, institutionalize and prioritize a human rights agenda for children at various levels and arenas
The Center has always been guided by a keen desire to understand the social reality in which deprived children of India are placed. It is important to note that all the areas in which the CCL is engaged primarily concerns children of families who belong to the socially and economically disadvantaged classes and caste groupings in India.
- Evidence based research: Identifying and highlighting gaps in child-related data and service delivery systems and developing a database
- Strengthening law as a tool for social change: Developing and proposing new laws and nuanced protocols to address the lacunae in current law and practice.
- The University as a space for dialogue, debate and facilitating collective response to issues concerning the child: A special dimension of the CCL’ strategy, since it is located in an academic environ, is effectively utilizing the platform of being located within a University to initiate debate, build partnerships and influence law, policy and practice in favour of children. CCL has also engaged itself with academic programmes and courses and of late efforts have been further accelerated in this direction.
Links with Government bodies:
As a Center, we believe in working in collaboration with all those working on the issues of marginalization, so as to contribute towards strengthening platforms committed to Child Rights. This is in pursuance of our string commitment to assist in bridging the gap between theory and practice, law and social reality, NGO – Government – Academia. In this regard we are constantly enhancing our networking with various Government and Non Governmental Organizations and moving towards forging links with new partners – both within the State and elsewhere.
Links with Government bodies:
2. Department of Primary and Secondary Education, Government of Karnataka, Bangalore
3. Department of Labour, Government Of Karnataka, Bangalore
4. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, New Delhi
5. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of India, New Delhi
6. Department of Elementary Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, New Delhi
Quasi Government Institutions:
- National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) – Bangalore
- National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD)
- National Child Labour Institute – New Delhi
Links with Campaigns and Alliances:
World Social Forum (WSF) and Karnataka Social Forum (KSF): National-State Some of our staff have been active members of this forum that contributes immensely to the broadening of our vision and strategies in our work with children.
People’s Campaign for Common School System (PCCSS): National and State Level –CCL has been the founder member of the campaign and on the National Executive Committee.
Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL): National and State Level – CCL has been an active member in this campaign and is also on the legal support and Core Committee Member of the campaign.
Campaign Against Child Trafficking (CACT): State Level – CCL has been an active member in this campaign and providing legal support and part of advocacy, advocacy and networking committee of the campaign
National Alliance of People’s Movement: Some of our staff have been active members of this alliance which contributes immensely to the broadening of our vision and strategies in our work with children.
Jeevika : This is a movement against bonded labour and bonded child labour in Karnataka. CCL has been involved in providing support to the research processes presently underway and in facilitating the involvement of the State Government in responding to the issues raised in the process.
Campaign Against Female Foeticide : This Campaign is being driven by Society for Integrated Rural Development, Tamilnadu. CCL also played pivotal role in bringing together experts, academia and activists together to discuss the issue of sex selective abortions and female foeticide.
National Alliance for Fundamental Right to Education (NAFRE) : CCL, NLSIU is the founding partners of this network and has since played a major role in taking the campaign forward.
Bangalore forum for Street and Working Children : It is a local forum consisting fo around 15 member organizations working directly with street and working children in Bangalore.
Tamilnadu NGO Forum for Street and Working Children : CC actively supports this state level forum having a membership of more than 40 organizations.
National NGO Forum for Street and Working Children : This is a national network of NGos working for street and working children.
Child Line : This is a project supported by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment consisting of a network of organizations implementing and supporting the 24 hour Hotline service for children. Various Centers have been set up in different cities around the country.
Over the period, CCL has buildup a good working relationship with a number of NGOs and activists in the field both at the local and national levels. In Bangalore, especially a group of persons representing the State Government Department for Woman and Child Development, activists from NGOs working on issues of children in various difficult circumstances, experts from NIMHANS and others have been brought together to share in a process of dialogue on Law and Policy Reform specially with regard to the Juvenile Justice Act. This Platform has created the foundation for ongoing debate and partnership between children. Likewise, contacts have been made and developed with the NGOs working in the areas of education and child labour.
Links with International Institutions/ organizations
TheCentre for Child and the Law(CCL) has also been able to develop link with the South African Law Commission (SALC). CCL facilitated a rich and meaningful dialogue with the members of SALC along with UNICEF. This discussion centered around the issue of Law and Policy for children and the efforts made by both the countries in undertaking research, initiating dialogue and moving towards meeting international standards. This positive interaction created the foundation for partnership with CCL and SALC.
CCL is completing a decade of its existence in the National Law School of India University and has made a sound platform by establishing ourselves as a local and national resource base on issues related to child labour, education, and juvenile justice. We also need to be able to offer our expertise on all other areas related to children and we cognize that this demands a lot more work.
- Children as victims of armed conflict in Manipur
- Study and initial work on children and communalism in Gujarat
- Tibetan Refugee children
- Disability and Juvenile Justice (ongoing)
- Study of Contract Labour System in Karnataka
The Karnataka Gram Panchayat’s (School Development and Monitoring Committees)-Model Bye -Laws (CCL-2006)
Report of A Study to Evaluate the Functioning of School Development and Monitoring Committees in Karnataka (CCL in collaboration with GoK and APF, 2005)
Report of the Study Group on Contract Labour System in Karnataka; Report submitted to Ministry of Labour, Government of Karnataka (CLS, 2004)
Universalisation of School Education: The Road Ahead (CCL, 2004)
Reflections on the life and working conditions of the Pourakarmikas in Bangalore; Report of the Round Table Group on Law, Poverty and Marginalization (Law & Society Cluster, NLSIU 2002)
Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000; A Critique (CCL, 2002)
Female Infanticide and Foeticide - A Legal Perspective (CCL,1999)
Report on the National Consultation on Medico-Legal Issues related to Female Foeticide (CCL,1999)
Report on the National Consultation on Juvenile Justice (CCL,1999)
Report on the National Consultation on Right to Education: A Strategy to Eliminate Child Labour (CCL, 1998)