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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 at the domestic level 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 whole 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 Rapporteurs and Representatives on different children’s rights issues, Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (under OPCAT) and European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)) and so forth). Additionally, in 2014, the 3rd Optional Protocol to UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 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.

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 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). 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: 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 acquisition 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 and connect with the frontiers 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), governance and political structures set up to enforce and deliver concrete children’s rights, strategic litigation, and access to justice for children including the right to lodge individual communications to treaty bodies, including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child. The many and significant advances in domestic child rights jurisprudence of selected key international cases will not be left out of the debates.

The course includes a week visit to Geneva to attend a session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and meet with representatives of international (non) governmental organisations (e.g. Child Rights Connect, UNICEF etc.) and international organisations that interact with children’s rights (e.g. ILO, WHO).

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 acquisition 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;

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

  • 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 furthermore be able to develop implementation/enforcement strategies including principle/fundamental perspectives/approaches as well as pragmatic and effective perspectives/approaches;

  • apply all of the above mentioned skills to various kinds of enforcement of children’s rights issues; and

  • create and present a presentation and/or present a case before a court and/or a relevant UN Committee.

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of four modules (Domestication, Litigation, Reporting Mechanisms and Special Mechanisms). Each module spans two or three weeks. Each week consists of two lectures/seminars in which students and lecturers engage interactively with topical themes concerning children’s rights enforcement and monitoring. Each lecture/seminar requires adequate preparation of the course materials and core questions that will be addressed in each week.
The course includes a one-week visit to Geneva, Switzerland during which crucial stakeholders in children’s rights enforcement and monitoring will be visited.

Examination method

Each Module has an assignment (4 assignments in total); each assignment counts for 25% of the final grade.Two (out of four) assignments entail both a written part (15%) and a oral part (10%). In sum: 80% of the final grade is based on written papers and 20% on oral presentations.


The literature is distributed through Blackboard.
Submission of papers via Blackboard using safe assignment.

Course materials

Unless otherwise indicated, all study materials are available via the online catalogue or as a paper copy in the Leiden law Library. Where possible, all required and recommended reading materials will be made available through Blackboard.


Coordinator of the course:
Dr. Katrien Klep
Telephone number: 0031-71-527 1325
Email address:

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