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The Evolving Capacities of the Child


  • Gerison Lansdown


The Convention on the Rights of the Child introduces for the first time in an international human rights treaty, the concept of the ‘evolving capacities’ of the child. This principle has been described as a new principle of interpretation in international law, recognising that, as children acquire enhanced competencies, there is a diminishing need for protection and a greater capacity to take responsibility for decisions affecting their lives. The Convention allows for the recognition that children in different environments and cultures, and faced with diverse life experiences, will acquire competencies at different ages. Action is needed in law, policy and practice so that the contributions children make and the capacities they hold are acknowledged. The purpose of the study is to open the discussion and promote debate to achieve a better understanding of how children can be protected, in accordance with their evolving capacities, and also provided with opportunities to participate in the fulfillment of their rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerison Lansdown, 2005. "The Evolving Capacities of the Child," Papers innins05/18, Innocenti Insights.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucf:innins:innins05/18

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    Cited by:

    1. Sonia Livingstone & Jasmina Byrne & John Carr, 2016. "One in Three: Internet Governance and Children’s Rights," Papers indipa795, Innocenti Discussion Papers.
    2. Lise H MacEachnie & Hanne B Larsen & Ingrid Egerod, 2018. "Children's and young people's experiences of a parent's critical illness and admission to the intensive care unit: A qualitative meta‐synthesis," Journal of Clinical Nursing, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 27(15-16), pages 2923-2932, August.
    3. Stoebenau, Kirsten & Heise, Lori & Wamoyi, Joyce & Bobrova, Natalia, 2016. "Revisiting the understanding of “transactional sex” in sub-Saharan Africa: A review and synthesis of the literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 186-197.
    4. Harder, Annemiek T. & Mann-Feder, Varda & Oterholm, Inger & Refaeli, Tehila, 2020. "Supporting transitions to adulthood for youth leaving care: Consensus based principles," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    5. Natasha Blanchet-Cohen, 2009. "Children, Agency and Violence: In and beyond the United Nations study on violence against children," Papers inwopa09/64, Innocenti Working Papers.
    6. Carine Le Borgne & E. Kay M. Tisdall, 2017. "Children’s Participation: Questioning Competence and Competencies?," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 5(3), pages 122-130.
    7. Kristin Anderson Moore & Laura H. Lippman & Hugh McIntosh, 2009. "Positive Indicators of Child Well-being: A conceptual framework, measures and methodological issues," Papers inwopa580, Innocenti Working Papers.


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