Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

School of Law hosts 'Rights of the Child' conference

Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Better late than never

Better Late than Never, a one-day symposium held in January at Oxford Brookes University, marked the 25th Anniversary of the UK Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Organised by Dr Brigitte Clark and Dr Mariya Ali of the School of Law, participating speakers, as well as delegates, included representatives from government, the judiciary, academia, and from NGOs. Professor Janet Beer opened the conference, the last of her tenure as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University.

The morning session began with The Right Hon Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lord Justice of Court of Appeal, discussing UK case law in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and illustrated the gradual recognition of the Convention on Children’s Rights.. Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England then discussed the significance of the ratification in 1991. Sixteen-year-old Eshe Barzey, Child Advocate, from Ashcroft Academy, spoke on behalf of Shaftesbury young people as their child advocate and about what the CRC means to her. Emeritus Professor Michael Freeman, of University College London, discussed the ‘superficially simple’ Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Emeritus Professor Jane Fortin, of Sussex University, then referred to the fact that there was a deep ambivalence over the UK’s fulfilment of many of its obligations under the Convention.

In the afternoon, Louise King of Save the Children examined the General Measures of Implementation (GMI) in relation to the UK, and Anna Edmundson from Children’s Rights Alliance then gave a fascinating account of the rights of children in custody. In the last session of the day Ms Naomi Danquah, addressed the gap between ratification and practice in the work of UNICEF with Local Authorities and a fifteen-year-old boy spoke of his harrowing experiences in care and also of the hopes he now has for his future.

Since many of the issues raised at this conference need further discussion and examination, the organisers, in collaboration with EU experts from Oxford Brookes School of Law and immigration lawyers, are planning a follow up conference in October to discuss particularly the impact of the Family Migration Rules on children, young people and families and in particular on the enjoyment by children of their rights under the CRC. [gallery columns="2" link="file" ids="4911,4913,4912,4910"]