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Successful 7th edition of the Frontiers of Children’s Rights Summer School

From 24 to 28 June the 7th edition of Leiden University’s annual Frontiers of Children’s Rights Summer School took place in Leiden and The Hague.

We look back at a week full of inspiring lectures by leading experts in the field. Professionals from all over the world attended the summer school and were able to exchange experiences, share best practices and strengthen their network in the field of children’s rights.

Day 1: General introduction to children’s rights

The summer school started with words of welcome by the instigators of this summer school, Prof. Ton Liefaard (the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights and Vice-Dean of Leiden Law School) and Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen (Professor of Children’s Rights in the Developing World). Prof. Jaap Doek (former Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child) thereafter presented achievements and challenges in the field on the international level.

Dr. Katrien Klep (Assistant Professor International Children’s Rights) discussed national issues on the implementation of children’s rights after the participants presented on the problems therewith in their home countries. Thereafter, Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen, Ms. Simona Florescu (PhD Candidate at Leiden University) and Prof. Aguiling-Pangalangan (Professor at University of the Philippines, Director UP Law Center Institute of Human Rights) presented developments in respectively the African, European and Asian region. The first day of the summer school ended with a boat tour with drinks and snacks through Leiden’s canals.

Day 2: Children in institutions and responsibilities for businesses

Tuesday morning was devoted to the legal position of children in institutions and alternative care. Prof. Mariëlle Bruning (Professor of Children and the Law) addressed her extensive research on violence against children in institutions. Ms. Bep van Sloten (International Alternative Care Expert) addressed her lifetime experience in the field of alternative care and her insights into the harmful consequences of alternative care. Ms. Michelle Oliel (Director of Stahili) gave a workshop on the effects on children of placement in alternative care.

Tuesday afternoon Ms. Tulika Bansal (Advisor at Human Rights and Business Department at the Danish Institute for Human Rights) presented on the responsibilities of businesses regarding the implementation of children’s rights. Good practices were mentioned, as well as some great challenges that remain.

Day 3: Juvenile Justice

On the third day of the Summer School juvenile justice was addressed. In the morning, Dr. Stephanie Rap, Assistant Professor Child Law) illustrated how children experience certain decision-making processes and how their participation can be facilitated in a child-friendly manner. Dr. Yannick van den Brink (Associate Professor Child Law) showed us how the minds of judges work in decision-making processes regarding pre-trial detention of juveniles and how those decision can have an ever-lasting impact on the legal position of the children concerned. In the afternoon, Prof. Ton Liefaard presented the standards applicable to children deprived of their liberty, how these can be operationalised in practice and how life in prison is experienced by children. He also spoke about the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

Day4: Children on the move and NGO’s

On Wednesday Dr. Mark Klaassen addressed highly topical issues of the rights of children in the context of migration with many references to recent developments. Cleveringa Professor Corinne Dettmeijer addressed the issue of children on the move from a criminal law perspective and presented ways to (better) combat the crime of child trafficking.

Later on Wednesday a visit to UNICEF the Netherlands was undertaken. At UNICEF the Workshop with Children’s Rights organisations took place, organized by UNICEF, DCI-ECPAT and Save the Children. Dr. Sarah Spronk (Head of Political, Press & Cultural Department at the Netherlands Embassy in Argentina) spoke on the role of children’s rights in her work and addressed what aspects of projects instigated by NGO’s generally trigger the interest from local governments.

Day 5: The ICC, child labor and climate change

On Friday a field trip to the International Criminal Court took place where participants attended a lecture on the ICC Policy on Children. Later, Mr. Roelof van Laar (Founder of Free a Girl, former member Dutch Parliament and Master Student in the Leiden Advanced Master Programme on International Children’s Rights), addressed how he proposed a bill aiming to combat child labor and what it takes to get a bill accepted in politics.

We were proud to welcome Prof. Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Associate Professor of Law at the University of the Western Cape, member and former Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, member and former chair of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child) in The Hague for the closing lecture. He touched upon the consequences of climate change to children’s rights.

Exchange of ideas

In between these highly interesting lectures and site visits, there were many opportunities to talk and exchange ideas during lunch- and coffee breaks. We were happy to see many conversations happening among participants, and between participants and the lecturers. We are confident that all participants take the rich information home and contribute to the further development of the field of international children’s rights. We thank everyone for their contributions and/or participation and hope to see you all on our next edition in 2020.

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