In 2005, the authors were part of a team which undertook research for the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People into the areas in which children's rights are being ignored or underplayed. The research used the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (UNCRC) to create a set of benchmarks against which Northern Ireland law, policy and practice could be measured. While mainly successful, the process was problematic due to the fact that UNCRC provisions are loosely worded and ambiguous, and data on children's lives are incomplete. However, lessons learned from this research can be used to address such problems and, more generally, to maximise the potential of the UNCRC in its use as an auditing tool. The experience also shows the importance of undertaking research in line with the principles and provisions of the CRC, in particular that it be inclusive and take into account the views of children and young people.