The Vitality of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: From Legal Document to Societal Transformation


On February 19, 2020 the IE Law Society is going to host a special talk on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and is inviting everyone, both law and non-law students to join this event. What, however, is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Most people know of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, for instance, but few are aware of the Convention on the Rights of the Child or “UNCRC”, even though it is the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty in history (with one significant exception of the United States, which has signed the Optional Protocols to the CRC, but up until today has failed to sign the UNCRC itself). Moreover, as opposed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is legally binding upon all its signatory States. Indeed, when it was signed in 1989 it signified an incredible step in the making of human rights history, where world leaders decided together to make a commitment to the youngest and, thus, in some ways most vulnerable, humans in our world—children.

What rights does the UNCRC protect? The rights protected have a diverse range, from rights, which also can be found in other human rights treaties, such as the right to life or the right to freedom of expression, as well as rights, which are more specific to the UNCRC, such as the right to not be separated from one’s parents, or the right to have access to information and material from a diversity of sources, including mass media. More importantly, there are four core principles guiding the protection of all of these rights, which are the following: the principle of the best interest of the child, the principle of non-discrimination, the principle of the right to life, survival and development, and the principle of respect for the views of the child. In spirit of the latter it is important to note that the UNCRC was created with the idea in mind that children themselves are the ones who know best about their own needs and desires and that, therefore, they should be consulted in any decision-making process.

Who is the speaker for the event? The Law Society has invited Dr. Philip D. Jaffé to speak on the UNCRC and its importance as a tool for societal transformation. Dr. Jaffé was in Trinidad & Tobago and has lived very internationally ever since. He was elected member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on June 29, 2018 and his been a member since. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is a specialized UN body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the UNCRC by its State parties. On top of his qualifications as a Committee member, Dr. Jaffé is a professor of legal psychology at the University of Geneva and director of the University’s Center for Children’s Rights Studies. Moreover, he has performed several humanitarian missions for major international governmental institutions in several troubled regions of the world, such as the Cucasus, Iraq, or Aceh province in Indonesia. Therefore, Dr. Jaffé will be able to talk about many highly interesting experiences he has made in his professional life.

Finally, who is this talk for? It could be of interest to any kind of student at IE. While the topic itself has its legal roots, it is a highly politicized topic and should be of major interest to BIR students, as well as PLE students and, of course, anyone interested in politics and international relations. Moreover, Dr. Jaffé’s contribution as a legal psychologist and experience with overseas missions again widens the spectrum from a purely legal matter into something of general importance. The Law Society would like to emphasize that no prior legal knowledge is required for the talk. Finally, there will be a chance to have a personal conversation with Dr. Jaffé after the talk, giving a chance to anyone to ask him questions in regard to their personal field of interest.

We hope to see as many people as possible there on February, 19 at 18:30 in Serrano 105, Madrid! (For Segovia students, please sign up on campusgroups ASAP under the “Segovia Campus” option—if enough people sign up we will be able to provide a bus to Madrid)

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