4th Children’s Rights Research Symposium

4th Children’s Rights Research Symposium 
“Interaction in International Children’s Rights” 

December 2016 

University of Leiden 


We will discuss Interaction in International Children’s rights, covering both the interaction between different legal systems, as well as interaction with social realities on the ground. 

One of the features that makes international children’s rights law unique is that it interacts with a broad range of different fields of law such as (international) family law, criminal law, migration law, labour law, and humanitarian law. One of the questions that arises is what role different legal institutions on all three levels take in the interpretation and implementation of children’s rights, and how they enforce, enhance, weaken, mitigate or change children’s rights. 

International children’s rights also interacts with local social realities on the ground. The children’s rights from below perspective allows for a dialectical understanding of children’s rights by focussing on the different actors involved, children, parents, communities, ngo’s, national governments, regional and international bodies and the power relations between them. 

Personal Notes: 

This symposium differed from the 3rd edition in several ways. 

All the presenters had to hand in an extended version (max 2000 words) of the short abstract which had been accepted. These extended abstracts were bundled and send to all the participants beforehand. The idea behind this is to facilitate richer discussions after each presentation, and also it allowed to presenters to focus on one or a few things in particular in the short presentation (max 10min) as the details were given in the extended abstract. 

All of the sessions were plenary, which meant every presenter had the attention of all the participants. Furthermore, every presenter had a designated professor (one that was not his or her own supervisor) who would comment on the presentation and the extended abstract for about 5-10 minutes. After these comments there usually was time left for a few other questions from the audience. 

At the end of the conference there were two last sessions, one amongst the professors, and one amongst the PhD students. During the latter we had the possibility to discuss with a ‘seasoned’ researcher our struggles and questions concerning presenting in such conferences (a presentation or a poster). 


We spoke about what we liked and what could be improved for the next edition. I will briefly discuss these discussions now: 

Getting to know each other 

There was a shared feeling that it was a shame that we only really got to know each other during the dinner after the first day, and during the feedback session at the end of the conference. There were many who had preferred an icebreaker session beforehand, so getting to know each other before the first sessions start. This would create a more amical and relax ambiance from the start. This discussion led to the creation of a PhD in Children’s Rights Facebook group where we now share things like call for papers, publications etc. 

About the presentations 

Most of us really liked the way the sessions were designed. The fact that you had a designated commenter meant that everyone got some useful feedback from at least one person. However, there were some complaints that the professors were ‘hogging’ the time the ask questions, which left almost no time for the PhD students to participate in the discussions, and on top of that it made some feel like it was not their ‘place’ to ask questions, which was considered a shame because it was after all a PhD conference, and comments and questions from peers can be very useful as well. 

Poster sessions 

Those who presented a poster discussed their experiences. Like is often the case, the poster session was held after the first day of session combined with drinks. The idea is that everybody gets a drink and makes a round along the posters. Some complained that it doesn’t feel very professional, that people are more interested in catching up over a beer than asking questions about a poster. Making a poster takes a lot of time and the idea was posed that very short individual introductions (soapbox speech) may help to sell the research ideas, after which people would be intrigued and more inclined to spend some time taking in the posters and talking to the researchers. 

Methodology session 

Almost everyone agreed that a methodology session was missing. Most felt that we should take advantage of the fact that once a year we can spend time with other children’s rights PhD researcher, and learn from each other about specific methodological issues, and just about sharing experiences and struggles that come with doing a PhD. For example the issue of juggling your other responsibilities with writing the dissertation (phd and…). 

Legal character 

Like during the 3rd edition, the majority of PhD presenters came from ‘law’, there were only a few sociologists and one anthropologist. When asked about whether the conference had been ‘too legal’ most of the lawyers said ‘not legal enough’ and the others said ‘way too legal’. 



Thursday 8 December 2016 

12:00 – 12.30 Registration and welcome – coffee and sandwiches 12:30 – 12:40 Words of welcome - Prof. dr. Ton Liefaard 12:40 – 13:10 Keynote speech - Prof. dr. Rick Lawson 13.10 – 13.40 Keynote speech - Prof. dr. Jan Michiel Otto

13:45 – 14:15 Break 

14:15 – 15:45 Session 1: 

Interaction between children’s rights, legal systems and social realities on the ground: Towards the implementation of children’s rights in the national context 

15:45 – 16.00 Short break 

16.00 – 17:30 Session 2: 

Interaction between children’s rights and international and regional legal systems: children’s rights and the ECtHR on cross-border issues’’ 

17:30 – 18:30 Poster Session 19:00 Diner 

Friday 9 December 2016 

8:30 – 9:00 Welcome back and coffee 

9:00 – 10.00 Session 3 

Interaction between children’s rights and legal institutions and regimes 

10.00 – 10.15 Short break 

10.15 – 11.45 Session 4: 

Interaction between children’s rights, evolving capacities and new perspective in education and identity 

11:45 – 12:00 Short break 

12:00 – 13:30 Session 5: 

Interaction between children’s rights and new fields of law and legal frontiers 

13:30 – 14:00 Lunch 14:00 – 15:00 Professors’ talk 14.00 – 15:00 Interactive PhD session


Link to the event: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/law/institute-of-private-law/child-law/phd-conference 


Children’s Rights European Academic Network (CREAN)
c/o Centre for Children’s Rights Studies
University of Geneva, Valais Campus
Chemin de l’Institut 18
CH – 1967 Bramois (Sion)

Tel. +41 (0)27 205 73 06