The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child safeguards the rights of children in various ways, stipulating that the authorities must seek to safeguard the best interests, survival and development of the child, protect children from discrimination and respect children’s views in matters that concern them directly. The Convention was ratified by Norway in 1991, and has now been ratified by 191 countries.
In April 2003 Norway submitted its third report to the UN on the follow up to the Convention of the Rights of the Child. This report provides a brief description of some the challenges Norway faces with respect to living conditions for children and young people, and presents changes and new developments that have taken place in this sphere since Norway submitted its previous report in 1998.
In June 2003 the Storting (Norwegian national assembly) adopted a bill relating to the incorporation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child into national legislation. The Convention was integrated into Norwegian law by means of an amendment to the Human Rights Act of 1999. The amendment entered into force in October 2003. The legal position of children has been strengthened. The Children Act, the Adoption Act and the Child Welfare Act have also been amended, lowering the age limit for children’s right to express their views from 12 to 7 years. Younger children who are capable of forming their own opinions must be informed and given an opportunity to express their views before decisions in cases that affect them may be made.
In 1981, Norway established the world’s first Ombudsman for Children. The Ombudsman for Children is an independent, autonomous and politically neutral body established through a targeted act of legislation. The Ombudsman’s primary task is to promote the interests of children in society at large, and to closely monitor developments in the conditions under which children develop.