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Enforcement And Monitoring of Children's Rights


Course requirements

Master degree.

Course information

The enforcement and monitoring of international children’s rights has increasingly become complex due to the high number of relevant international, regional and national children’s rights standards and the level of sophistication of the content of these standards affecting different areas of law. In addition, the entire system of reporting about children’s rights implementation and of remedying children’s rights violations has become more complicated, including for children themselves, due the wide variety of judicial bodies (i.e. regional human rights courts), treaty bodies (i.e. monitoring bodies with competence to receive individual communications) and other reporting and monitoring mechanisms at the international, regional and national level (e.g. Special Procedures and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on different children’s rights issues. Additionally, in 2014, the Optional Protocol to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (OPIC) entered into force, which provides children with the right to file individual communications to the Committee on the Rights of the Child alleging violation of their rights, as well as opening the option of inquiries into grave and systematic violations of children's rights.

Consequently, the enforcement and monitoring of children’s rights requires in-depth and state of the art knowledge of the implications of International Children’s Rights Law, as well as knowledge of the role, functioning, ethics/responsibilities and interaction of relevant enforcement mechanisms. In addition, participating in or contributing to enforcement and monitoring mechanisms requires specific professional skills, including (legal) writing skills, research skills (including skills to assess the quality of research), litigation skills, advocacy skills, communication skills and skills to present information in a strategic way to a non-specialist audience (incl. e.g. politicians, wider public and children themselves). The strategic deployment of one or another tactic to enforce children’s rights through the many avenues now available requires advanced consideration of benefits, risks, and requirements to success.

This course combines two overarching objectives: 1) the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of specific and topical children’s rights issues related to the enforcement and monitoring of children's rights, as well as the ins and outs of relevant enforcement mechanisms, and 2) the development of professional skills to work in this particular area. The content of this course will be tailored to the latest developments in the area of children’s rights. It focuses on the (challenges with regard to the) enforcement of children’s rights through reporting and monitoring mechanisms, domestication of children’s rights (e.g. law reform), incorporation of children's rights, strategic litigation, and access to justice for children including the right to lodge individual communications to regional and international treaty bodies, including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The many and significant advances in domestic child rights jurisprudence of selected key international cases, regional (and national) will not be left out of the debates. This course builds on knowledge acquired in all of the previous courses.

The programme organizes an extra-curricular trip of a week to Geneva, Switzerland to attend a session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and during which students visit and engage with various stakeholders in enforcement and monitoring of children’s rights. Participating students are expected to pay a contribution towards the costs of this trip.

Course objectives

The course aims at the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of specific and topical children’s rights issues as well as the ins and outs of relevant enforcement mechanisms, and the development of professional skills to work in this particular area.

After this course the student will be able to:

  • Assess the enforcement of specific substantive children’s rights issues, including the roles of relevant stakeholders and their responsibilities;

  • Operationalize substantive and comparative children’s rights knowledge in (legal) practice of enforcement and monitoring (including incorporation, domestic legislation, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), UN monitoring processes, regional monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, access to justice and child rights strategic litigation;

  • Engage in different enforcement methods and strategies, monitoring (incl. the intersection of international, regional and national monitoring mechanisms), advocacy and lobbying and contributing to drafting of legislation/law reform and strategic litigation;

  • Critically assess the reliability and quality of information in order to apply children’s rights and enforcement methods; perform in different roles with different responsibilities, including ‘one issue approaches’, one side representation, balanced or even judicial/adjudicative or quasi-adjudicative roles (e.g. where children’s rights are at issue in administrative procedures);

  • Students will be able to develop implementation/enforcement strategies including principle/fundamental perspectives/approaches as well as pragmatic and effective perspectives/approaches; and apply all of the above-mentioned skills to various kinds of enforcement of children’s rights issues.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of different modules. In each module a variety of teaching and work formats will be used, including presentations, tasks and group work, and preparation of specific assignments.

Materials produced in class, such as papers or video’s, may not be published online or in any other form or be released without prior approval by the programme management.

Examination method

There will be two graded assignments covering the different modules. The assignments will count 70% and 30% of the final grade. One of the assignments will include both oral and written components.

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average of both assignments.

Retakes: It will be up to the discretion of the relevant lecturer/examiner to decide on the form of the retake. The retake may consist of a written retake exam, oral retake exam or any other kind of assessment that is deemed appropriate.


The course manual, including the reading list will be published on Brightspace.
Submission of papers is done via Brightspace.

Course materials

A list of all study materials will be published on Brightspace. Unless otherwise indicated, all study materials are available via the online catalogue or as a paper copy in the Leiden Law Library.


Coordinator of the course:
Ms. Lucy Opoka, LLM
Telephone number: 0031- 71 527 6438

Programme Officer:
Ms. Esther Uiterweerd
Telephone number: 0031-71 527 4644
Email address:

Currently these pages are being updated to reflect the courses for 2022 - 2023. Until these pages are fixed as per 1 September 2022 no rights can be claimed from the information which is currently contained within.

Should there be any future changes of the Covid 19 virus which may impinge our teaching and assessment, these could necessitate modification of the course descriptions after 1 September. This will only happen in the event of strict necessity and the interests of the students will be taken into account. Should there be a need for any change during the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis. Modifications after 1 September 2022 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board and Programme Director.