The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an almost universally ratified human rights treaty that attributes human rights and fundamental freedoms to children. The CRC contains both civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Children, thus, are regarded as bearers of human rights. At the same time, the CRC recognizes the special status of children as human beings in development, who can exercise their rights in accordance with their age and maturity and who may need special measures of protection. This has different implications.
First, there are four provisions that have been recognized as the general provisions of the CRC: art. 2: non-discrimination; art. 3 (1): the best interests of the child; art. 6: right to life and development; art. 12: right to be heard. These general principles have significant implications, particularly in relation to the other provisions of the CRC and should be used for their interpretation and implementation.
Second, the CRC explicitly recognizes the position of parents, who have the primary responsibility for the upbringing of their child (art. 18 CRC). In this regard, they have to provide their child with appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise of her or his rights, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child (art. 5 CRC). The State has the responsibility to support the parents in their responsibilities, but it also has the responsibility to protect the child, if the best interests of the child so require. This could e.g. imply that a child has to be placed in a form of alternative care if her or his parents cannot serve the interests of their child well.
Third, the CRC (and two Optional Protocols) provides special provisions and/or special measures of protection for specific groups of children, including immigrant or refugee children, children in alternative care, children with disabilities, children who have been subject to exploitation or trafficking, children in armed conflict, children deprived of their liberty and children in conflict with the law.
The following topics will be addressed in this course:
• Children’s rights as part International Human Rights Law, including the historical development of children’s rights, the position of the CRC in relation to other UN human rights instruments and the relation between the CRC and regional human rights instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child and the American Convention on Human Rights.
• Critical reflections on children’s rights, including the foundation of children’s rights, limitations of children’s rights and the issue of universality of international children’s rights.
• Implications of the CRC framework and implementation of children’s rights at the domestic level (special issues). Particular attention will be given to the significance of international children’s rights in legal procedures in the Netherlands.
• Monitoring of children’s rights – UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the roles of international organizations (such as UNICEF), regional mechanisms, independent national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations.
Objectives of the course
This course aims to provide in depth knowledge about the international children’s rights framework and its direct and indirect significance for the rights of children at the domestic level. A critical reflection on the potential and limitations of children’s rights will be part of this course.
The following achievement levels apply with regard to the course:
Knowledge and insight:
• Students will acquire thorough knowledge of children’s rights as part of international human rights law;
• Students will acquire thorough knowledge and understanding of the legal status of children under international law;
• Students will be familiar with the legal historical perspective of children’s rights;
• Students will acquire knowledge about the CRC and Optional Protocols and other international and regional children’s rights instruments;
• Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of the different legal tools for implementing and monitoring children’s rights at the domestic level, in particular in the Netherlands;
• Students will acquire legal knowledge and understanding of the rights of children in specific areas, such as child protection law and juvenile justice;
• Students will be familiar with recent developments concerning children’s rights issues.
Application of Knowledge and Insight:
• Students are able to analyse and answer legal questions concerning children’s rights using their knowledge of and insight into the different international children’s rights instruments ;
• Students are able to use the different legal tools for implementing and monitoring children’s rights in individual cases, particularly at the domestic level.
• Students will be able to critically reflect on international children’s rights and have an understanding of relevant ethical issues and dilemmas, challenges and caveats when implementing children’s rights in legal daily practice;
• Students are able to write a high quality academic paper on the theoretical aspects of complex (legal) children’s rights issues, in English;
Students are capable of discussing children’s rights issues as part of a legal debate with other students during class, in English
The timetable of this course can be found in uSis.
Mode of instruction
Students are expected to attend 10 interactive lectures and seminars during 5 weeks. For every meeting students will be asked to prepare the compulsory literature.
For the seminars students have to prepare a brief joint presentation (max. 15 minutes) in pairs regarding one children’s rights thesis (2 students per thesis) in which they highlight the pro’s and con’s (one student focuses on the pro’s and the other on the con’s). After that, they take the lead in discussing the thesis during a legal debate in class, under the supervision of the instructors. In each seminar, two theses will be discussed. All students are expected to prepare the seminars by writing an assignment about the theses (max. 600 words) and to submit it at the start of each lecture. All are expected to participate actively during the legal debate in class.
Paper: Furthermore, students are expected to prepare one academic paper about a specific children’s rights issue (max. 3000 words). This paper should be submitted towards the end of the course.
Written exam: The course will end with a written exam with essay questions and short questions.
Finally, one or two guest lectures and/or excursions will be organized to (inter)national organizations (e.g. UNICEF) active in the field of children’s rights.
Students will prepare one paper (max. 3000 words). This paper counts for 30% of the final grade.
Students prepare four/five written assignments regarding the theses of the seminars (max. 600 words). These assignments count together for 10% of the final grade.
Students will prepare one presentation in pairs regarding the pro’s and con’s of one children’s rights thesis. Afterwards they lead the discussion. The results of the presentation and the leading of the discussion will result in a mark that counts for 10% of the final grade.
Students will complete this course by a written exam, that counts for 50% of the final grade (exam materials: all the prescribed compulsory literature and topics discussed during lectures.)
Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.
More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.
Obligatory course materials
Course information guide:
- Reader containing (state of the art) articles from scholarly journals and case law
Recommended course materials
Commentaries on the UN Convention on the rights of the child (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers).
Handboek Internationaal Jeugdrecht, Ars Aequi Libri 2012.
Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.
Co-ordinator: to be announced
Institute: Private Law
Department: Children’s Law
Room number secretary: C202
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.00 – 13.30 hours
Telephone number secretary: 071-527 6056 of 071-527 7235
Belangstellenden die deze cursus in het kader van contractonderwijs willen volgen (met tentamen), kunnen meer informatie vinden over kosten, inschrijving, voorwaarden, etc. op de website van Juridisch PAO.