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Marit Buddenbaum wins Jaap Doek Children’s Rights Thesis Prize 2018

On 13 December Marit Buddenbaum won the Jaap Doek Children’s Rights Thesis Prize for her thesis on the right of the child to contact with brothers and sisters. The prize for the best master’s thesis in the field of children’s rights is awarded each year by Defence for Children together with the Department of Child Law of Leiden University.

'In her well-substantiated thesis, Marit has explained that it is very important for every child to be able to have, and maintain, contact with brothers and sisters (siblings) and that this interest should be recognised as a right’, jury chairman Jaap Doek said at the award ceremony. 'The perspective taken in Marit’s thesis is highly original and in the context of the UN Children’s Rights Convention it deals with a topic which receives too little attention.'

In her winning thesis The Rights of Siblings under International Children’s Rights Law (.pdf) Marit first set out what the importance is of the relationships between siblings based on literature from various disciplines (law, psychology and social sciences). She then proceeded to analyse situations when this interest was not or was insufficiently considered such as for example when parents divorce, in child abduction cases and the removal of one or more children from a family. This is done with extensive attention to the directly relevant provisions in the UN Children’s Rights Convention (Arts. 3, 8, 16, 20 and 21) and to concrete judicial decisions involving the separation of brothers and sisters.

Among other things, she recommends that the Committee on the Rights of the Child dedicates a General Comment to the rights of a child to have (and maintain) a relationship with brothers and sisters, a relationship which should also play a role when decisions are taken involving the interests of a child. She also proposes that further research be carried out into the significance of this right in the context of migration.

Marit’s thesis was selected from six nominees. Her thesis was rewarded with a prize of € 500 to be spent as she chooses, plus a trip to Genève including a visit to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the international secretariat of Defence for Children. Before the Jaap Doek Children’s Rights Thesis Prize was awarded, Professor Ton Liefaard, UNICEF Professor of Children’s Rights at Leiden University, welcomed those present. Afterwards, Professor Corinne Dettmeijer gave a lecture on Sexual abuse against children: law, freedom and responsibility.

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