Ranking 38th overall, Lebanon scores relatively well in this year’s Index. The score is based on very current data, as Lebanon was reviewed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 2017 as part of the Committee’s state reporting procedure. The country’s performance is particularly noteworthy given the tremendous pressure on its economy arising from the Syrian crisis. However, the KidsRights Index does uncover important points of concern, e.g. on the indicator non-discrimination. KidsRights urges Lebanon to intensify efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against children of migrant workers, refugee children and children in marginalized situations, including Dom and Bedouin children and children with disabilities. Discrimination is one of the main reasons why marginalised children are dropping out of school, as they face unchecked corporal punishment and bullying.

With respect to budget allocated towards children Lebanon is given an urgent recommendation by the CRC ‘to take measures to ensure adequate funding for the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, including from international partners’. This Plan agreed by the Government of Lebanon and its international and national partners aims to provide humanitarian assistance to refugee children, among other things.

Global underspending on children’s rights

All 182 countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child have agreed to allocate their best available budget towards the rights of the child. Disappointingly, not one country in the Index lives up to this promise. A positive trend is the increased spending on children’s rights in recent years by several developing countries, including Peru, Zambia and Nepal. Peru increased the budget reserved for children and adolescents by 13% between 2013 and 2016.

Marc Dullaert, founder and chairman of KidsRights: “The increased spending by these developing countries should serve as an inspiration to all nations to spend more on children’s rights. It must at the same time be recognised, however, that corruption, the absence of a stabile child rights legislative and policy framework, as well as lack of monitoring of funds are often still preventing budget increases from achieving sustainable improvements to the daily lives of children in many countries. These issues must be resolved with priority to achieve long-term advances in such areas as health, education and child protection.”

Lack of child participation opportunities: a global cause for concern

Disappointingly, not one country in the entire Index achieved the highest score on the indicator Respecting the views of the child. 46 (out of 179) countries scored the lowest possible score on child participation, with Asia and the Pacific region performing particularly poorly. Marc Dullaert: “Promoting child participation is part of KidsRights’ core mission. We believe that children have the potential to be changemakers with the power to move the world. KidsRights therefore strongly urges countries both rich and poor to ensure that they structurally engage children and youth in decision-making processes and incorporate their views on matters that affect them directly.”

Overall ranking

Norway is 2018’s number one on children’s rights. Runners up are Iceland (2), Portugal (3), Spain (4), Switzerland (5), the Netherlands (6), Finland (7), Germany (8), France (9), Slovenia (10). Worst performing countries overall in the Index are Sierra Leone (182), Afghanistan (181), Chad (180), Democratic Republic of the Congo (179), Equatorial Guinea (178), Central African Republic (177), Guinea-Bissau (176), Papua New Guinea (175), Eritrea (174) and The United Kingdom (173).

Per-state performances are not measured in terms of the absolute contributions to children’s rights, but are judged on countries’ efforts relative to their socioeconomic capabilities. The United Kingdom’s extremely low ranking, for example, does not in itself indicate that children are worse off there than those who live in less wealthy countries. It does mean, however, that the UK has underperformed drastically compared to its socioeconomic standing and capabilities.