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From a protected to an empowered childhood: 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

On the 21st and the 22nd of November 2019, a conference was held in Leuven in the light of the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This celebratory conference was a joint effort of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, the Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy at KU Leuven, the Law and Development Research Group at the University of Antwerp and the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University. The conference dealt with the shift in focus from a child’s right to protection to children’s rights to empowerment and aimed to evaluate the best practices and the road still ahead for the CRC in various areas of interest (i.e. economic, political, social and personal empowerment). A multidisciplinary group of experts on children’s rights was brought together to present their research findings, followed by a Q&A. Invited speakers were, amongst others: David Archard, Gerison Lansdown, Manfred Liebel, Julia Sloth-Nielsen and Kay Tisdall. Three youth activists, Jeydi, Rimsha and Yousri, supported by Plan International, were also invited in a panel to present their experiences and to talk about the barriers they still face in having their voices heard.

Both Prof. Eva Brems (HRC) and PhD researcher Evelyn Merckx (HRC) participated in the organisation of the conference and chaired two panels. Prof. Brems chaired the panel on autonomy and participatory approaches and Evelyn chaired the panel on the economic empowerment of children. Evelyn also presented a paper titled: “Article 12 as a tool to empower children in the light of parental separation” in the panel on child participation. Prof. Eva Lievens of the Human Rights Centre also gave a presentation on “Children’s Rights in the Digital World” in the panel on personal empowerment of children.


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