Levin College of Law
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International Children’s Rights

Course Number: LAW 6936 Credits: 2

This course deals with aspects of contemporary childhood, adolescence and youth, with a particular focus on human rights violations and remedies globally. The course starts by asking how conceptions of childhood and adolescence have changed over time and space. It then introduces fundamental international and regional human rights principles and their relevance to key contemporary concerns. How can we ascertain a child’s perspective and opinions? What does the notion of “the best interests of a child” mean in practice? What policies enable adolescents to be agents? Since ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child over twenty years ago, considerable progress has been made in advancing young children’s rights, including their enjoyment of basic social and economic entitlements such as access to primary education and health care. These gains are not matched by corresponding advances for older children, particularly girls. In many developing societies, secondary and tertiary education remains widely inaccessible, maternal mortality and teenage suicide remain large cause of female adolescent death, and youth unemployment and violence have reached epidemic proportions. Deaths and injuries sustained during distress migration also impinge heavily on adolescents. How can the gap in realization of adolescent and youth human rights be addressed? Conflict and disaster situations present particular risks for children and adolescents, including in relation to trafficking and other forced migration contexts. The course will explore legal, humanitarian, development and other strategies for understanding and advancing the human rights of children, adolescents and youth globally. For example, what opportunities do the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and related campaigns offer for child protection and adolescent rights? The course will engage with several overarching conceptual approaches to protections of children and youth rights. Topics covered include education and health policies, trafficking and child labor, intercountry adoption, gender specific harms. migration and citizenship.