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The Right to Effective Participation of Refugee and Migrant Children: A Critical Children's Rights Perspective

woensdag 23 januari 2019
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP Den Haag


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About the lecture

Worldwide, the number of child refugees has more than doubled in the last decade. Refugee children comprise the most vulnerable group in the context of current migration flows; they experience a dangerous journey, traumatic events and often lack access to essential necessities, such as food, shelter, medical aid and a healthy and stimulating environment for growing up. These children are often not recognised and respected as rights holders and thus as active agents in asylum procedures.

However, a one-sided view of refugee children as vulnerable objects is not in coherence with international children’s rights law and standards, including among others the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, that see all children as autonomous subjects and full bearers of rights. A rights-based perspective counters the sole protectionist view of refugee children as vulnerable objects in need of protection only. As such, the vulnerability and precarious situation of refugee children calls for a strong legal position in asylum procedures. Effective participation in asylum procedures – based on child-friendly and age-appropriate communication and adapted procedures – can strengthen the legal position of refugee children and contribute to the perceived fairness of complex procedures and outcomes.

In this paper, through critical analysis of legal instruments, a nuanced understanding of the meaning of the right to participation for refugee children will be sought. This right will be conceptualised from a children’s rights perspective, with the aim of investigating its meaning for this specific group of children. Moreover, the meaning and scope of participation will be studied in relation to other children’s rights and principles, such as the best interests and the evolving capacities of the child, the right to information, the right to be heard and fair treatment.
The paper can be accessed here

About the speaker

Stephanie Rap holds a Master of Science degree in pedagogical sciences and a Master of Arts degree in criminology (cum laude), obtained at Utrecht University. In 2013, she defended her PhD dissertation titled ‘The participation of juvenile defendants in the youth court’ at Utrecht University. Stephanie Rap’s academic interest lies in the field of the effective participation of children in (legal) procedures. Stephanie studies child participation in diverse (judicial) procedures and settings, such as in juvenile justice, child care and protection, asylum procedures and in schools. She employs an interdisciplinary approach, combining international children’s rights and child law with knowledge and insights from criminology, pedagogical and behavioural sciences. Moreover, access to justice for children and the implementation of rights in the daily lives of children plays an important role in her academic work.

In 2017, she obtained a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to conduct a 3-year study on the participation of refugee children in asylum procedures in the Netherlands. Stephanie Rap has published and presented extensively on juvenile justice, children’s rights and child participation. In her research, she has worked together with civil society organisations such as the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO), Fair Trials International, Missing Children Europe and the Dutch Children’s Ombudsman. She is a member of the editorial board of the Dutch/Flemish journal for children’s rights (Tijdschrift voor Jeugd- en Kinderrechten). Stephanie lectures in the LL.M. programme Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights on topics related to juvenile justice, child victims, trafficking and exploitation of children and child protection. 

About the seminars

The Diplomacy and Global Affairs (DGA) Research Seminar is a series launched by the Research Group on Diplomacy and Global Affairs at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs. The seminars of internationally acknowledged guest researchers and faculty members deal with current research topics in diplomacy, international relations, global affairs, and political economy broadly conceived and target a broad audience through their interdisciplinary focus.


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