Conference 25 Years CRC

To herald the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Department of Child Law of Leiden University organised the international conference ‘25 Years CRC’.

On Tuesday 18 November and Wednesday 19 November more than 300 children’s rights expert from all over the world convened in the City Music Hall in Leiden to actively discuss the following two questions: a. What has the Children’s Rights Convention brought us so far? and b. How can the implementation of children’s rights be improved in the next 25 years?

During this two-day conference many reputable children’s rights experts spoke, including Prof. Dr. Michael Freeman from University College London, Dr. Hans van Loon, Former Secretary General at the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and the National Rapporteur Human Trafficking and Sexual Violence against Children, Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen. In the so-called ‘arm chair sessions’ several experts who were involved with the drafting of the CRC were consulted on the drafting process, their expectations then and the outcome so far. Furthermore, the future of the CRC was discussed from the perspective of representatives of several organisations and actors, such as Plan International, the Council of Europe and Save the Children. Furthermore, approximately 150 participants presented their own research during parallel sessions, with topics ranging from child abuse to children and their online behavior, from the CRC in relation to other legal frameworks to children in armed conflict, from juvenile justice to divorce matters.

The gathering of so many people who are driven by children’s rights was unique and turned out to be the perfect recipe for a good atmosphere, the exchange of information, the discussion of several issues and to come up with new conclusions and plans. Currently, the organising committee of the conference is selecting the most relevant papers in order to bring these together to reflect the most important findings made during the conference. Children’s rights are important; always and everywhere, was an obvious but important conclusion. Although more efforts need to be made to fully realize children’s rights, the CRC has definitely led to many successes. This was not only brought about by the introduction of this treaty, but also by the efforts of many different actors, because, as Prof. Dr. Vitit Muntarbhorn also put it during the conference: ‘the CRC is an instrument of change, not an end in itself’.

The international conference was part of the children’s rights week which took place from 17 to 21 November. During this week many events were organised which were, in one way or another, connected to children’s rights. At the children’s rights summit, for example, many children’s rights experts, including policy makes, practitioners and children, gathered to discuss specific topics in more detail during several roundtable sessions. During the Children’s Rights Moot Court Competition, 15 teams from all over the world pleaded a challenging case in front of a fictitious International Court on the Rights of the Child and were judged by international legal experts, ultimately resulting in the final in the Children’s Rights House in Leiden.