The International Journal of Children s Rights

Published by Brill Academic Publishers
Online ISSN: 1571-8182
Publications
Article
This article examines the text of Article 14 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and the work of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. It considers the text of the Article and its travaux préparatoires; it then provides an analysis of the issues considered by the Committee: the concept of the evolving capacities of the child, freedom of religious choice, freedom of manifestation, and education. It also highlights the problems that have emerged in the Committee's work, in the light of a theoretical framework of the right of the child to religious freedom in international law. It concludes that the Committee fails children in relation to their religion and suggests some positive steps to be taken by the Committee.
 
Article
In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the legal justification for physical punishment of children, but limited its protection to minor force applied by non-frustrated parents, with the hand, to children between the ages of 2 and 12. This double message - that physical punishment is justifiable but only under limited conditions - is potentially confusing to the Canadian public. We attempted to answer the question of whether this decision was understood as restricting the use of physical punishment or whether it was understood as giving a "green light" to this practice. We analyzed the first 420 responses to the decision that were posted to the website of a national newspaper in the days immediately following the release of the Court's decision. The postings were coded according to writers' awareness of and agreement with various aspects of the decision, as well as their conceptualizations of physical punishment. The findings demonstrate that the majority of writers understood the ruling as giving parents permission to use corporal punishment. Only 11% referred to the limitations placed on its use. The findings are discussed in terms of the policy implications of the Supreme Court's decision and the public's limited understanding of it.
 
Article
The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN General Assembly in 1989 marked a shift in paradigm from viewing children as the possession of parents and objects of welfare to individuals with rights. At the outset of the second millennium, two optional protocols to the Convention (Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict and Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, Child Pornography) were adopted in 2000. The need for a communications procedure was suggested from the very beginning of the drafting process. This article will discuss developments leading to the establishment of an open-ended working group for the elaboration of a communications procedure, 3rd Optional Protocol to the CRC. Concerns, questions, and the discussion surrounding the scope and content of the Optional Protocol will be elaborated.
 
Article
As families are central to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and children's rights generally, it is necessary to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which children and adults interact with each other in these spheres. Thus, this paper explores the dynamics of parent-child relationships in Ghana, the first country to ratify the Convention. In particular, it focuses on the three Rs of intergenerational relationships in Ghana - respect, responsibility and reciprocity, which continue to be central to parent-child/adult-child relations, and assesses their implications for the very concept of children's rights as inalienable and the implementation of the Convention.
 
Article
Is it ethical for children to experience pain or sadness when talking about their experiences of abuse for purposes of research? Can they be re-traumatised by this experience? How can confidentiality be guaranteed if there are concerns about current abuse? These are some of the ethical questions that arise when children who have been abused are involved in research. Yet it is also recognised that children have a right to be involved in research. The critical dilemma is how to balance the welfare rights of children to be protected from any possible exploitation, trauma and harm with their right to be consulted and heard about matters that affect them. The difficulty in resolving this conflict may be one reason that current literature on this subject is still limited, and because such research places researchers 'in a minefield of ethical dilemmas' (Runyan, 2000: 676).This paper critically explores the ethical issues encountered in a study which encouraged children and young people who had been abused to speak for themselves about their experiences of victimisation. The authors discuss the ethical dilemmas that were encountered and how these were addressed in the context of children's rights. The authors argue that while serious ethical difficulties arise in this type of research, strategies which empower and promote children's informed participation, and minimise risks, are possible. The article presents the voices of children wherever relevant.
 
Article
Girls in the Middle East are often exposed to serious violations of their rights as set out in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child; these violations are particularly evident in the field of gender-based sexual discrimination and violence. The project described in this article attempts to produce a situation analysis of the exposure to sexual violence of girls aged 12-18 in three countries: Lebanon, The Occupied Palestinian Territories (the OPT) and Yemen. The article focuses on three particular types of gender-based sexual violence against teenage girls, namely honour violence, early marriages, and sexual abuse. The methods applied in the research were Focus Groups Discussions (FGDs) with about 8-12 participants in each FGD. In addition to the FGDs, life stories were also collected. The project emphasised the experiences and opinions of girls regarding the three types of sexual violence listed above. 384 teenagers participated in FGDs to express their views and experiences on sexual violence and more than thirty life stories were collected. The article explores how honour violence, early marriages, and sexual abuse are violations of the CRC and analyses the particular cultural mechanisms that underlie this gender-based sexual violence in the Middle East.
 
Article
In 1984, among its recommendations for the regulation of assisted conception services in the UK, the Warnock Committee proposed that the birth certificate of a donor-conceived person should record the fact of donor conception. While this proposal was never implemented, over twenty years later, a Joint Committee of the House of Lords and House of Commons recommended the use of birth certificates as a means of enabling donor-conceived persons to learn the nature of their conception. In response, the Government has committed to review the role of birth certificates. This paper represents an initial contribution to this exercise. It provides an overview of the legislative, policy and practice context of disclosure of donor conception, outlines arguments against and in favour of potential changes to birth certificates, and describes and critiques current propositions for revising birth certification. The paper concludes that there is a case for revising birth certificates and outlines a workable model to promote disclosure without compromising privacy concerns.
 
Article
The inclusion of children in EU external action, though welcome in principle, has failed so far to avoid the pitfalls of instrumentalisation - by invoking children's rights to serve other goals; charity - by only setting up development projects for children; protection - by focusing exclusively on offering protection to children in situations of crisis or violence; and conditionality - by using the observance of children's rights as a condition for aid or trade. While instrumentalisation, charity and protection may apply to EU policies in general, the criticism of conditionality is more specific to external action. An alternative starting point is then proposed, i.e. that of children's rights obligations incumbent on the EU itself rather than on third countries, in order to move beyond instrumentalisation and conditionality. It is believed that the emerging concept of transnational children's rights obligations may provide a useful conceptual framework in this regard. These transnational obligations are based on the acceptance of a shared responsibility for children's rights, and oblige powerful actors minimally to abstain from violating children's rights.
 
Article
This article discusses the impact of cultural difference on adoption in the United States (U.S.) during three historical periods and along three dimensions: religion, race and ethnicity. The focus is on the extent to which national and international definitions of the rights of the child as put forth by the United States, the United Nations and The Hague have affected adoption policy and practice. The article questions the extent to which the failure to respond to cultural differences has diminished the rights of the child and resulted in social injustice. Although focused on the U.S., the argument has relevance for many other countries, including Sweden, Romania, Ukraine, Australia, Korea and China.
 
Article
The point of departure of the present article is the child's right to preservation of her/his ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background in adoption, as stipulated in the CRC and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. The article seeks to analyse the various meanings attributed to preservation of the child's background in in- and intercountry adoption and in different national contexts. The main focus is on the seldom-studied perspective of one of the major sending countries in intercountry adoption: India. Five representatives of two non-governmental adoption agencies and one governmental agency in addition to six Indian adoptive parents have been interviewed about their views on the significance of the child's background in adoption. In our analysis, we show that preservation of a child's background is perceived to be in conflict with other interests of the child, such as gaining a position in her/his adoptive family equal to that of a biological child and being loved unconditionally. In contrast to the general portrayal of Indian adoption applicants as being selective regarding the child's religious background and skin colour, agency representatives as well as adoptive parents endeavoured to distinguish themselves from this portrayal by emphasizing the irrelevance of the child's background.
 
Article
This article argues that, despite its promise to mainstream the best interests of the child into all EU policies, the European Commission has failed to ensure that the EU internal market and consumer policies, which are at the heart of the EU legal order, adequately protect children. Two main pieces of EU legislation illustrate the argument: the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
 
Article
This paper examines the current policy and practice around children's participation in South Africa. By situating the analysis from the perspective of the socio-economic and normative context within South Africa the paper critiques current typologies of children's participation for focusing too narrowly on processes internal to participatory processes. The paper argues that theorisations of children's participation need to take account of the range of activities which are labelled as children's participation and interrogate issues around who gets to participate and why, what the purposes of the participation are and under what conditions it is possible. This requires examining participatory processes and the children involved in them in relation to adult actors within and beyond the process as well as in relation to broader socio-political and economic environments.
 
Article
This article evaluates legislation developed in South Africa for the legal recognition and support of child-headed households. It provides an explanation and critical analysis of new statutory provisions. We show that in a developing country with AIDS pandemic challenges and limited resources such as South Africa reasons in favour of formal legal recognition outweigh those against. We demonstrate, however, that in order to meet the best interests standard it is essential to base recognition on household viability. Our analysis indicates that, although the South African provisions are groundbreaking and of considerable value as an example for other countries, there are some deficiencies which may compromise their effectiveness. Amendments and supplementary wording are proposed.
 
Article
It is argued in this article that the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is no longer up to date. Compared with the new situation of children using the internet, cell phones, sending text messages, downloading videos, gaming and gambling on line, the CRC looks like an archaic document, the author found. Adolescents consume enormous amounts of alcohol and some have to be treated for addiction, but the term alcohol can't be found in the CRC. The CRC does not include the right to treatment for drug addiction. Article 33 (protection from illicit drugs) is much too weak for children and adolescents of the 21st Century, it is argued. Furthermore it was observed that globalisation and HIV/AIDS are not specifically addressed by the CRC. The author presents some proposals, one of them being a Review Conference of the States Parties to the CRC.
 
Article
In this article, we consider the inclusion of children and young people in participatory governance processes. Whilst limitations are often evident in such processes, we argue that even participatory opportunities that are provided by the state and regarded as spaces into which citizens are invited can be "conquered by civil society demands for inclusion" (Cornwall and Coelho, 2006: 1). To this end, we suggest a practice-based and diachronic approach to studying the interactions between participatory structures and children and young people's agency. Being attentive to the agency of children and young people, and adopting a more diachronic approach to evaluating participatory initiatives, point to the possibility, we suggest, of seeing these relationships unfold in sometimes unexpected ways.
 
Article
The rights of the child, as recognised by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child have been increasingly reiterated in international declarations and national commitments. However, there exists a disparity in `the de jure protection and de facto realization of human rights' (Landman 2005: 5). The relative absence of systematic engagement within academia and without on the issue of mapping the operationalisation of children's rights by States not only hinders ongoing attempts to identify and explain the causes and variation in the failure to implement children's rights but also weakens national and international efforts to hold States accountable for their obligations. This article seeks to address the lack of utilisation of measures of children's rights and the deficiencies in the measures that are in use. By drawing on the existing academic literature and intergovernmental efforts to measure human rights, the article proposes a measurement matrix that could be used to chart the implementation of States' obligations towards children's rights. The matrix is an attempt to further the emerging international endeavours to develop children's rights indicators.
 
Article
Whereas the Convention on the Rights of the Child ('the CRC') provides a progressive framework capable of normative transformation, the challenge for children's rights advocates is how to translate the treaty's prescriptions into robust protection for children everywhere. A key indicator of success in this endeavour is the level and sustainability of appropriation of the CRC's principles in the local polities that have subscribed to its normative framework. In this article, I adopt culture and rights as tools for analysing the contexts, contests, processes and prospects that define such transformation.
 
Article
Over three million children are believed to have been born worldwide - and over 200,000 annually - as a result of “new reproductive technologies” (NRTs). This paper provides a critical review of the proposition that children are always best-served by being born. Drawing on the specific examples of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI); multiple births; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and selecting the characteristics of children, and donor conception it argues that there are defensible welfare arguments for curtailing unrestricted access to NRTs. Increased and wider dialogue is proposed to encourage the implementation of practices and policies that take account of the interests of all those affected by NRTs and which command public support.
 
Article
The changing nature of modern warfare has increasingly exposed children, both boys and girls, to direct involvement in armed conflict. In order to bring this horrible practice to a halt, the international community ten years ago adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, establishing eighteen as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment and participation in hostilities. This article presents an overview of the legislative history, legal framework and key provisions of the Optional Protocol. It also discusses the experience and practices of the International Criminal Court and the issue of children and criminal responsibility. The paper further elaborates on the needs and difficulties of war-affected children for reintegration into their communities, with special attention to psychosocial health and the building of livelihood skills.
 
Article
The main focus of this paper is the rights of children in post-communist Russia. With this in view I give a brief overview of child's rights under the communist regime and after the Soviet Union breakdown. Further, I will examine in more detail the current situation with children's rights and, particularly, the child's right to protection. To make it more illustrative, after giving a legal framework, I will address the most acute and pressing problems in the field.
 
Article
It is a common feature of the treaties on international protection of economic and social rights that all states, regardless of their resource capabilities, are invited to ratify these treaties. Although all developing countries except Somalia have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the macroeconomic conditions of systemic poverty and underdevelopment in these countries indicate that there are concerns as to whether and how such states can really perform their legal obligations and guarantee the fulfilment of the Convention's economic and social rights. This article examines the emerging patterns of recent state practice in this area, with a view to identifying the contribution of international cooperation and assistance in these processes. The gist of the discussion presented here is that despite their macro-economic disadvantages, developing countries can accelerate the processes of achieving full implementation of economic and social rights if they have access to appropriate arrangements for external technical and financial cooperation and assistance. In view of this, it is suggested that there may be a legal obligation on the part of the international community to render such assistance and cooperation.
 
Article
Since the early 1990s participation has grown to become a key notion amongst child-focused international and intergovernmental development organisations. By means of participatory projects such bodies commonly seek to achieve transformation of children's lives. While considerable consideration has been given to the technical, institutional and attitudinal challenges to achievement of this goal, far less attention has been paid to the political context in which such transformation is sought. Drawing upon the emerging critique of (adult) participatory development, this article seeks to illustrate the inherent limitations of child participation resulting from the failure to confront the workings of power associated with capitalist expansion. It argues that societal change leading to the realisation of the rights of impoverished and marginalised children requires greater political will and new forms of alliance amongst international child-focused development organisations.
 
Article
This research was a survey. It included 350 volunteer university students. A likert type scale was developed in order to measure the attitude of university students toward children's rights. The factor analysis technique and cronbach alpha formula were used to test the validity and reliability of the scale. Item total correlation was calculated for each item. The profile of students, such as gender, faculty, grade and human rights courses taken were examined using frequency and percent. To see whether or not there was a significant difference between students' attitude according to variables, t-test was used. As a result, female students, the students from the Faculty of Educational Sciences and the students who had taken courses on human rights were found to have a positive attitude towards children's rights. Grade of students in not a discriminating factor in the attitudes towards children's rights.
 
Article
Early childhood intervention in autism has over three decades of empirically validated study, but has very limited qualitative analysis. There is a wealth of research in this field, but it remains very much within a solely positivist paradigm and researchers are constantly striving to prove that their method is the most effective In this paper I explore the impact of this paradigm on our approach to intervention, and our understanding of what it means to be autistic. I will look at some of the common themes in early intervention research across a range of approaches, and will state the case for a more ethical methodology when researching young children with autism. I will argue against the medicalization of a disorder that in its nature cannot be defined as a 'medical truth', and subsequently state the case for moving forward into a more qualitative, critical disability paradigm in this field.
 
Article
We consider the problem of reconciling the two commitments to hear a child and to promote a child's best interests by identifying the principal issues at stake and illustrating them by reference to legal decision-making in the domains of health in the United Kingdom and custody and child protection in Norway. We agree that a child's views are not authoritative but dispute Harry Brighouse's claim that they are only of consultative value, affirming the fundamental right of a child capable of expressing a view of doing so and of thereby participating in the procedures where decisions affecting his or her interests are made. In conclusion we offer a checklist of questions that need to be asked about the way in which jurisdictions combine their explicit commitments to the two principles of best interests and hearing the child's views.
 
Article
This paper provides an overview of significant developments in Brazil in regard to children and young people's rights and participation in the public sphere. The paper addresses the importance of historically contextualizing particular practices and policies towards children and young people, in order to understand present manifestations of their "participation". Outlining the Brazilian context of deep inequality, the paper reflects how different childhoods, that of the rich and of the poor, have been differently categorised and acted upon. The paper goes on to give an account of the important movements of mass participation that emerged through the 1970s, in particular those concerning Popular Education, that sought to dismantle repressive institutions and relationships within the country, including those towards the children of the poorest sectors of the population. Important here is the influence of Brazilian pedagogue and activist Paulo Freire, whose ideas around 'conscientization' and their subsequent impact on participatory practices with children and young people are also addressed. The paper concludes with a brief overview of recent research on the multiple spaces of participation young people are engaged in, offering some possible avenues for future research.
 
Article
Not surprisingly, the end of communism marked a swift collapse of the protection of children's rights in Bulgaria. The paper critically examines the complete lack of humane 'communism exit' strategies in the country. Rather, the state quietly withdrew from guaranteeing the basic rights of the child such as rights to health care, education and day care deserting families to cope with child upbringing in a hostile and deregulated environment. At the end of the 20th century the only remainings of the former communist system appeared to be the residential institutions providing care for 30,000 abandoned or delinquent children. The new system for the protection of children' rights has to be built besides the lack of a clear political will but within the supportive milieu both of the accession to the European Union negotiations and the UN CRC being part of the national legal framework. The essential safeguards of the children's rights are in place in Bulgaria of today. This raises the expectations that the children's rights will receive adequate place in the political agenda and in resource allocation.
 
Article
The competency inquiry has traditionally been a critical initial challenge for child witnesses, most of who are called to testify about their own victimization or as witnesses of family violence. In most common law countries children can only testify if they can correctly answer questions about such abstract concepts as the “oath,” the “promise” and “truth.” These inquiries can be confusing to children, and may prevent children who are capable of giving important evidence from testifying. Recent psychological research establishes that the ability of children to answer questions about the meaning of such concepts as “truth” and “promise” is not related to whether they will actually tell the truth, but the act of “promising to tell the truth” increases the likelihood that children will tell the truth. Informed by this research, in 2006 Canada significantly reformed its laws governing the process for determining the competence of child witnesses. The last section of the paper briefly surveys laws that govern the competency of child witnesses in a number of other jurisdictions and offers proposals for reform.
 
Grounded Systemic CRC Model
Article
This paper investigates theoretical and practice intersections in Canada between the principles and provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the UN's Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice in Criminal Justice Matters. We undertook this exploratory study from a transdisciplinary standpoint and utilised grounded theory methodological and analytical procedures throughout; data include legal and policy documentary analyses along with eight key informant interviews. Findings indicate that CRC implementation has been impeded by myopic disciplinary approaches that have dissolved its constituent principles by isolating them from its provisions. Young people's human rights are languishing within Canadian juvenile justice contexts, and thus, historical efforts to build an ecosystem of rights-respecting communities in that nation are being compromised. The paper concludes with a reiteration of a CRC implementation model which articulates the balance amongst participation, protection and power relations.
 
Article
The following exploratory study was conducted in 2005 within Canadian post-secondary institutions for those intending to gain employment within public education for children and related professions. Data are comprised from thirteen interviews and draw upon students and educators from education, child health, and child and youth studies programmes. The researchers adopted a qualitative, grounded theory methodology to analyze documentary themes and those that emerged during theoretical sampling. Although there is variance of opinion, the majority confirm there is a limited theoretical appreciation of the Convention, and of concepts related to 'childhood' with a resultant lack of knowledge within post-secondary education. Interview findings were corroborated by policy analyses and data from non-governmental surveys, the Concluding Observations from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and a contemporaneous parliamentary review undertaken by Canada's Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. A number of implications stemming from the ongoing violation of international human rights law in Canada are discussed as well as directions for future research.
 
Article
Although research on children's thinking about children's rights has increased over the past few decades, there has been virtually no study of children with maltreatment histories who live in state care. This group is particularly vulnerable, having suffered profound violations of their right to security at the hands of their caregivers and often residing in non-kinship settings. We examined conceptions and attitudes about nurturance and self-determination rights in 100 10-18-year-old maltreated children living in state care in Toronto, Canada. Participants demonstrated a more accurate definition of a right than typically-developing youth in previous studies. Rights that were salient related predominantly to participants' current - rather than historical - circumstances. However, compared to nonmaltreated children in previous research, there was a greater focus on rights related to protection and access to basic needs, which suggests that basic issues of protection and provision are still quite relevant in their lives. While type of maltreatment did not relate to participants' thinking about rights, differences emerged between youth living in foster care and group homes. In general, rights that appeared salient to participants had an aspirational quality in that they related to opportunities or benefits that they deemed important but may not have experienced. Theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed.
 
Article
Article 20 of the UNCRC entitles young people in residential care to 'special protection.' This presents a challenge to states parties about how such protection can be guaranteed. It is suggested that one way to do this is through the establishment and monitoring of standards. The National Care Standards are the baseline for measuring the quality of care in residential establishments in Scotland. This study was funded by the Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care, the body charged with the responsibility of inspecting children's homes in Scotland. It set out to elicit the views of young people about their experience of care and to develop a framework for their participation in the inspection process. This paper presents some of the findings from the study. In particular, it will outline the views of young people about their care in light of Article 20. 24 young people aged between 15 and 19 years, took part in the study. The findings indicated that young people have a mixed experience of their care setting. They reported experiencing good support, improving living environments and a range of developmental opportunities. Staff attitudes, as demonstrated by listening, expressing care, and spending time with them, were central to positive experiences. However, on a negative note, young people often reported not feeling safe and raised questions in relation to staff training. Young people also questioned the effectiveness of complaints procedures. Analysis of the findings and implications for practice are explored.
 
Article
Within the Islamic context, it is strongly believed that Islamic principles are fully compatible with the international concepts of human rights. Nevertheless, Islamic Shariah law has been condemned by the widespread secular discourse on universal human rights as a blatant violation of human rights. Carrying out a thematic analysis of the main Islamic Conventions/Declarations on Human Rights and the Rights of the Child, issued and ratified by the largest Islamic inter-governmental body, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), this paper reveals that although the first Islamic Conventions/Declaration on the Rights of the Child (during 1980s) largely reiterated the religious rhetoric of Islam's commitment to children's rights, since then the Islamic states have begun to internalize a more universal understanding of human rights which reflects a change from a mainly ideological, conservative monologue into a more universal dialogue.
 
Article
The focus of this research was to examine the impact of traditional sexual health education, an approach that infringes upon children's rights to information, on 15 year-olds' knowledge of birth control, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, attitudes toward gays and lesbians. One hundred and twenty grade ten students completed a survey comprising measures of sex education received, sexual activity, sexual health knowledge, attitudes toward gays, lesbians, and the teaching of homosexuality, and school-based experiences with homophobia. Our findings reinforce the inadequacy of traditional sexual health education to meet rights consistent standards. Although many of the respondents were sexually active, their knowledge of sexual health issues, and especially of homosexuality, was poor. Homophobic expression was reported to be very common in schools, and teacher interventions were few. Prejudicial attitudes toward gays and lesbians were related to experience with homophobia and to a lack of knowledge about homosexuality. In essence current practices are violating the rights of all children but particularly those of sexual minority status. Consistency with children's rights requires shifts in sex education practices and teacher attitudes and behaviors.
 
Article
Media literacy continues to assume an important role in EU online child safety governance. Its central premise is that individuals who do not have access to relevant information will be least able to make informed choices about how online interactions and risks can be managed in safe and effective manner. This intuition is broadly correct but 'network publics' create new complications that media literacy measures must now address. This article examines the role of the EU in enhancing the safety of children in the online environment through the use of public awareness and education strategies. The analysis of EU online child safety governance strategy and, more specifically, the awareness-raising strategies pursued under the Safer Internet Programme reveals some of the ways child safety issues are now being transformed into legal and social obligations.
 
Article
In the context of the growing use of mediation in many countries to resolve parental disputes in separation and divorce, this article considers the implications of mediation practice for the rights of the child and, in particular, the tension between Article 3 and Article 12. In order to highlight the potential influence of the UNCRC in ensuring that children's article 12 rights are not compromised by the practice of mediation, which revolves around adults and parental decision-making, recent developments in England and Norway are compared in order to consider the impact of Norway's recent incorporation of the UNCRC into its domestic law.
 
Article
In the Republic of Ireland the government has proposed amending the Irish Constitution in order to improve children's rights. In this article I will argue that the proposed amendment represents a serious diminution in the rights historically afforded to young people who offend, disregards Ireland's commitments under international law and also ignores the well established link between child maltreatment and youth offending. The Irish approach echoes developments in the English youth justice system where the welfare concerns of young people who offend have become marginalised. I will compare the Irish and English approaches with the Scottish youth justice system which looks beyond young people's offending behaviour and provides a multi-disciplinary assessment of the young person's welfare needs. I will conclude that in Ireland, and in England, the best interest principle must be applied fully, without any distinction and integrated in all law relevant to children including laws regulating anti-social and offending behaviour.
 
Article
This paper challenges criticism of Romania's new child protection and adoption legislation, passed in 2004 and implemented in January 2005. It responds to the argument that Romania's indefinite moratorium on inter-country adoption (except in cases of family adoption) embodied in the new legislation, is a breach of international obligations. It is argued that pressure on Romania to lift the moratorium is based on a misunderstanding of the problems Romania has faced and of the substantive content of the new laws. Institutionalisation of young children is prohibited and, for older children, clear priorities are created for re-integration in the natural family or, failing that, foster care or family-type accommodation before accommodation in an institution can be considered. It is further argued that there has been an unhealthy preoccupation in the West with the single issue of inter-country adoption to the neglect of these other positive reforms to the Romanian child protection system and the programme of de-institutionalisation. The view is taken that criticism of Romanian reforms relies on a distorted notion of what constitutes 'abandonment' and the status of 'orphan'. The author concludes that Romania should robustly resist political pressure to lift the moratorium, largely originating from the pro-adoption lobby in the United States and, most recently, apparently endorsed by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
 
Top-cited authors
Helen Stalford
  • University of Liverpool
Julia L Sloth-Nielsen
  • University of the Western Cape
Judith Bessant
  • RMIT University
Karen Broadley
Joan E Durrant
  • University of Manitoba