Children’s Rights Conference, From 20th century visions to 21st century
‘This Conference attracted some 160 delegates and speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines. An inter-disciplinary collaboration between the School of Law and the Centre for Child Research at Swansea University, the Conference provided an opportunity to explore important questions about the nature of the obligations contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and about its interpretation and implementation. Held on the eve of the UN Committee’s public hearings on the UK Government’s third and fourth periodic reports on progress in implementing the UNCRC, and on the day when the UK Government announced its decision to withdraw its controversial reservation on immigration and asylum, the Conference was a timely reminder of the many issues on which much progress remains to be made but was also an opportunity to reflect on the positive developments that it has generated, particularly in Wales.
Plenary speakers included Professor Jaap Doek, former chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Nigel Cantwell, Geneva-based international consultant in children’s rights, Professor Geraldine Van Bueren, Queen Mary College, London, Dr Judith Ennew, Knowing Children, Keith Towler, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Funky Dragon, the children and young people’s parliament for Wales, Eleri Thomas, Chair of the Wales NGO monitoring group for the UNCRC and David Hawker, Director of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills. Workshop facilitators included Dr Ursula Kilkelly, University of Cork, Dr Helen Stalford and Eleanor Drywood, Liverpool Law School, Professor Michael Sullivan, Dr Antonella Invernizzi and Dr Heaven Crawley, Swansea University, Rhian Croke and Anne Crowley, Save the Children Cymru, Lisa Nandy, The Children’s Society, Dr Elspeth Webb, Cardiff School of Medicine, Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, Inclusion 21 and former Disability Rights Commissioner for Wales, Funky Dragon and senior members of staff from the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
Issues examined in plenary and workshop sessions included fundamental questions about the nature of children’s rights as envisaged by the UNCRC, the dynamics of the reporting and monitoring process, the need for a supra-national complaints and advisory mechanism, approaches to child research, the work of Funky Dragon (‘Our rights, Our Story’), the UNCRC as a tool for EU-level, national and sub-national policy development, child poverty, the rights of migrant children and discrimination in access to health services. A Conference report and selected summaries will be made available as soon as possible on the Conference website. The Swansea University organisers, Dr Antonella Invernizzi (Centre for Child Research) and Jane Williams (School of Law), plan an edited collection of papers in journal or book form in 2009, drawing on the Conference and associated seminars.’