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International Conference From a Protected to an Empowered Childhood

30 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Despite the strength that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has acquired throughout the last 30 years as a canonical text for guiding the protection of the rights of children, many questions for how to reach its objectives are still a matter of debate. Among them, the role of CRC as a tool for empowering children is an important issue to address. Despite that children’s voices and views have been gradually included in the public debate and in day-to-day life, a concern still exists as to whether a more active engagement and a more central role should be given to children in the matters that most concern them. Is voice and participation sufficient to fulfil children’s claims to be heard? Are they (and should they be) recognised as equal citizens entitled to freely express their views, to self-organise and to decide over many matters that affect them?

This conference aims to honour the 30th anniversary of the CRC by bringing together a multidisciplinary group of experts on children’s rights in order to explore jointly the evolution of the CRC as it relates to child empowerment, the most urgent issues that currently affect it, and the direction that it should take in the future. While the more ample research agenda on child empowerment and participation will be the central focus of the event, we will have panels addressing particular topics which are of relevance to analyse best practices and roads ahead for the CRC (i.e. economic, political, social and personal empowerment). The event will convene a panel of children activists from Belgium and abroad in order to engage the academic community with the work done by children themselves relating to the role of the CRC as a tool for their activism, the obstacles they encounter, and the roads ahead.


  • David Archard (Queen’s University Belfast)
  • Gerison Lansdown (independent children’s rights advocate)
  • Manfred Liebel (Free University of Berlin)
  • Eva Lievens (Ghent University)
  • Julia Sloth-Nielsen (University of the Western Cape)
  • Kay Tisdall (University of Edinburgh)
  • Wouter Vandenhole (University of Antwerp)
  • Bruno Vanobbergen (Flemish Agency – Growing Up)
  • 3 Young Leaders from Belgium and abroad (supported by Plan International Belgium)


Please visit the website of the conference for updates. You can find the full programme with 6 panels on this page


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