European Responses to Global Children's Rights Issues:Exchanging Knowledge and Building Capacity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Law

Abstract

Children's rights have taken centre stage on the European political, regulatory and research agenda. At EU level, the European Commission published its 'EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child' (2011) proposing concrete action in relation to a range of children's rights priorities, while other key EU institutions (ex. the EU Fundamental Rights Agency) have developed guidance and supported research on children's rights. Underpinning this are some important constitutional developments, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Art. 24), and the Lisbon Treaty (Art. 3 TEU) both of which embed the EU's commitment to protecting children's rights in all its actions. In the same vein, the Council of Europe has embarked on the second phase of its children's rights strategy, 'Building a Europe For and With Children' (2012). The strategy's key objectives are to provide support to national governments to eliminate all forms of violence against children and to protect the rights of children in vulnerable situations. As such, a range of European children's rights measures, including guidance, research and monitoring tools have been developed, whilst a growing body of child-sensitive jurisprudence is emerging from the European courts. Collectively, they represent a far-reaching, Europeanised, children's rights agenda with important implications for the development of national children's rights regimes both within and outside the European region.
Such developments have been greeted with some reservations by academics, NGOs and practitioners alike, however. Concerns have been raised as to the European institutions' insight into and compatibility with the ethical and normative framework underpinning children's rights; at their level of internal expertise or legal capacity to deliver a meaningful response; at their liability to subjugate children's rights to the broader economic and political demands of European integration; and at their ability to respond to the more pervasive children's rights abuses that occur globally, such as armed conflict, poverty or climate change. Further questions have been raised about the European institutions' collaboration with one another or with key international and domestic stakeholders and user-groups to ensure that any measures developed are compatible with and add value to parallel children's rights efforts. The proposed seminar series will provide a unique opportunity for key experts, practitioners and other stakeholders to address all of these issues head on, to exchange knowledge and experience of the current and potential impact of European children's rights measures on the ground, to contribute to the development of a more unified theoretical, ideological, legal and evidential basis for ongoing European initiatives in this area, and to explore new avenues of interdisciplinary enquiry.
To maximise the relevance and impact of the seminar series, the proposed seminar themes respond to ongoing priorities for action at European level, build upon knowledge generated through previous collaborative ventures, and introduce new important avenues of enquiry. Six seminars will cover substantive topics addressing European responses to: 1.Child friendly justice; 2.Violence against children; 3.Protecting children as consumers; 4.Chldren's rights and the global economic crisis; 5.Child migration; 6.Child employment and labour. The 7th seminar will summarise the series and consider future plans.
Cross-cutting questions to be raised in all of seminars include: i. Are such measures sufficiently accommodating of all children regardless of their socio-economic, ethnic background, gender, disability, age, nationality?; ii. How can we maximise their impact on children's rights and experiences on the ground?; iii. Do such activities add value to or undermine parallel international/national initiatives?; iv. How can children be engaged more meaningfully in the development of European children's rights?

Planned Impact

Relevant and sustainable knowledge exchange and capacity-building is the key rationale underpinning this seminar series and is central to generating impact.

The beneficiaries of the seminars will include both academics and non-academics. Academic beneficiaries will include those researching in the field of children's rights, European law and politics and social policy. Participation will be drawn from early career academics as well as more established researchers, and will actively recruit PhD students with a view to developing further capacity in this emergent area of enquiry. Non academic beneficiaries will include policy-makers at European and domestic level, children's rights NGOs, practitioners from the legal, social work and education sectors working with children, and, ultimately children and young people themselves.

The seminar series will impact on the beneficiaries in four main ways. First, the seminars will fill an identifiable knowledge gap in the nature, scope and potential of European-level intervention relating to children, particularly among academics and national/local policy-makers. The wide spread of disciplines represented in the series will provide crucial insight into a range of perspectives that this process demands, including EU constitutional law, international and European human rights law and politics, children's rights law and theory, and applied research methodologies. Established and early career academics, along with research students, will not only benefit from the opportunity to meet a range of international academics working in cognate disciplines, but also from the extensive international networking opportunities generated by the series. The series will yield sustainable, academic and knowledge-exchange benefits beyond the life of each seminar also, and beyond the participant group. This will be achieved through selective exposure of materials on the series website; through the development of high quality academic outputs (in the form of edited collections, special issues and briefing papers) and by providing the springboard for the establishment of a strong network of European children's rights experts. PhD students, early career researchers and more experienced academics alike will be encouraged to contribute to all of these activities.
Secondly, the series will allow for clearer communication of the obligations and benefits inherent in European children's rights measures with a view to stimulating more effective implementation, and with a view to identifying areas of further European intervention or restraint. This, in turn, will benefit stakeholders within the European institutions, providing them with a clearer channel of communication with user groups working at the coal face, enabling them to gain greater insights into the effects of existing children's right provision on the ground. Thirdly, the series will impact on international/national stakeholders - identifying ways of working in a more mutually complementary way with European actors towards shared children's rights goals, commensurate with their respective resources, capacity and competences.
The interactive format of the seminar series lends itself to a high degree of interdisciplinary exchange between the various participants. Moreover, the selected topics of the seminars deliberately correspond with current policy priorities at European level with a view to maximising their utility and relevance at the national level.
Better policies and legal measures tailored to children's specific individual and environmental circumstances will generate longer-term, positive effects for the protection of children's rights, ultimately impacting on the societies in which they live.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Making the Child Friendly Justice Guidelines Child Friendly 
Description We are in the process of developing, in collaboration with a group of children and young people, a series of online animations and talking heads to make the CFJ guidelines more accessible and meaningful to other children and young people. These will be available on Youtube by the end of 2014/early 2015. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact These will be linked from the CoE child friendly justice guidelines and potentially accessed by children and young people across Europe. 
 
Description The funding covers a series of 7 seminars which provide a platform for critical discussion and interdisciplinary exchange relating to the role of the European institutions - notably the European Union and the Council of Europe - in shaping children's rights. Seminars completed to date have addressed European responses to: Child Friendly Justice (1); Violence Against Children (2); Children's rights as consumers (3) and Child Poverty (4). Remaining seminars will cover child migration (5) and child labour (6). The final seminar will sum up the main conclusions arising from the seminar series and suggest ways forward. Full details of all of the seminars, including a summary report for each event, are posted on the website (see link below)
Exploitation Route We have actively involved a range of stakeholders in the seminars, particularly those directly responsible for children's rights policy development in the Council of Europe and the European Union. We are in the process of completing our first edited collection to be published in the Spring 2015, and are planning 2 further special issues: one on 'Children as consumers: a rights-based perspective'; and one on 'Children's Rights as an Economic Investment'. All of these contain contributions from the seminar series.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://www.liv.ac.uk/law/research/european-childrens-rights-unit/esrc/
 
Description The findings from the project were published in a book that was launched in the European Parliament in Nov 2015. The findings were also condensed into short briefing papers to inform debates within the European Parliament about how to engage children in decision-making at EU level. More recently, some of the contributions from the series of seminars and the book have been used to inform debates around the impact of Brexit on children's rights. We have also capitalised on the collaborative links forged through the project to form a UK-wide Brexit and Children Coalition. We have drawn on the findings and network of contacts made during this project to inform an extensive range of lobbying, knowledge exchange and impact activities associated with Brexit. Specifically, our Brexit and Children coalition have worked closely with Parliament to ensure that children's interests and rights are brought to bear on different aspects of the Brexit debates. We are currently working with the Home Office and DfE to ensure that the new EU Settlement Scheme is sensitive to children's rights also, and will be developing some child friendly materials and conducting focus groups with young people on behalf of the HO.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Elements of the research and outputs (edited collection) were used to inform a recent inquiry, led by the House of Lords EU Sub-committee on Home Affairs, into the situation of unaccompanied migrant children in the EU. Stalford was appointed as Specialist Advisor for this inquiry and was tasked with identifying appropriate witnesses and advising on the EU level children's rights framework. Two of the contributors to the funded project (Rebecca O'Donnell and Jana Hainsworth) contributed evidence to this inquiry and are cited in the final report: 'Children in Crisis: unaccompanied migrant children in the EU'. I also used aspects of the funded research (published in my chapter of the edited collection, the main output from the research) to inform the committee on justice processes at EU level that could assist the EU in holding Member States to account for their failure to implement EU child protection provision relating to unaccompanied children.
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Whilst it is too early and very difficult to assess the impact of the House of Lords inquiry findings on unaccompanied children, the findings did receive the unanimous support of the House of Lords and the European Commission (see public debate of HL on 1st November 2016). The report contains a number of recommendations that the European Commission has responded to very positively and committed to acting upon. A copy of the Commission's response is available on request.
URL https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldeucom/34/3402.htm
 
Description Making the Child Friendly Justice Guidelines Child Friendly - Consultancy fee
Amount € 8,600 (EUR)
Organisation Council of Europe (CoE) 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 06/2014 
End 12/2014
 
Description Brexit and Children Coalition 
Organisation Children in Scotland
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The insights and collaborative links gained from the 'European responses to Global children's rights issues' project placed us in a primary position to lead the campaign to promote children's rights in the Brexit negotiations. Helen Stalford organised and participated in a series of awareness raising events across the UK to illustrate the implications of Brexit for different aspects of children's rights, drawing on many of the findings from the ESRC project. In Sept 2017, Helen Stalford, along with Coram children's legal centre, the Children's Society and the Children's Rights Alliance England, established a UK wide Brexit and Children Coalition composed of over 30 children's rights organisations, academics and practitioners, including the four UK children's commissioners offices. Two briefing events have taken place in Westminster involving peers from the House of Lords and MPs from across the political spectrum. A series of briefing papers and speaking notes have been prepared for parliamentarians to use during the Brexit debates (with a particular focus on the child protection-related findings of the ESRC project) and our work has been used to frame the recommendations regarding children's rights-related provisions within the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Collaborator Contribution Lawyers from Coram Children's Legal Centre were involved in the child migration workshop of the ESRC project - they have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child migrants. Academics and policy officers from York University and the Children's society were involved in the ESRC project and have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child poverty and welfare. We have also forged new links with the Children's Rights Alliance England, Children's RIghts Alliance Ireland, Together (Scotland), NSPCC, NCB and Barnardos.
Impact The key output so far has been a discussion paper, Making Brexit work for Children, which includes contributions from Helen Stalford and from other members of the Brexit and Children coalition. A series of more specialist briefing papers have also been produced developing different thematic arguments. All are available here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/law/research/european-childrens-rights-unit/brexit/
Start Year 2017
 
Description Brexit and Children Coalition 
Organisation Children's Rights Alliance for England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The insights and collaborative links gained from the 'European responses to Global children's rights issues' project placed us in a primary position to lead the campaign to promote children's rights in the Brexit negotiations. Helen Stalford organised and participated in a series of awareness raising events across the UK to illustrate the implications of Brexit for different aspects of children's rights, drawing on many of the findings from the ESRC project. In Sept 2017, Helen Stalford, along with Coram children's legal centre, the Children's Society and the Children's Rights Alliance England, established a UK wide Brexit and Children Coalition composed of over 30 children's rights organisations, academics and practitioners, including the four UK children's commissioners offices. Two briefing events have taken place in Westminster involving peers from the House of Lords and MPs from across the political spectrum. A series of briefing papers and speaking notes have been prepared for parliamentarians to use during the Brexit debates (with a particular focus on the child protection-related findings of the ESRC project) and our work has been used to frame the recommendations regarding children's rights-related provisions within the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Collaborator Contribution Lawyers from Coram Children's Legal Centre were involved in the child migration workshop of the ESRC project - they have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child migrants. Academics and policy officers from York University and the Children's society were involved in the ESRC project and have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child poverty and welfare. We have also forged new links with the Children's Rights Alliance England, Children's RIghts Alliance Ireland, Together (Scotland), NSPCC, NCB and Barnardos.
Impact The key output so far has been a discussion paper, Making Brexit work for Children, which includes contributions from Helen Stalford and from other members of the Brexit and Children coalition. A series of more specialist briefing papers have also been produced developing different thematic arguments. All are available here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/law/research/european-childrens-rights-unit/brexit/
Start Year 2017
 
Description Brexit and Children Coalition 
Organisation Coram
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The insights and collaborative links gained from the 'European responses to Global children's rights issues' project placed us in a primary position to lead the campaign to promote children's rights in the Brexit negotiations. Helen Stalford organised and participated in a series of awareness raising events across the UK to illustrate the implications of Brexit for different aspects of children's rights, drawing on many of the findings from the ESRC project. In Sept 2017, Helen Stalford, along with Coram children's legal centre, the Children's Society and the Children's Rights Alliance England, established a UK wide Brexit and Children Coalition composed of over 30 children's rights organisations, academics and practitioners, including the four UK children's commissioners offices. Two briefing events have taken place in Westminster involving peers from the House of Lords and MPs from across the political spectrum. A series of briefing papers and speaking notes have been prepared for parliamentarians to use during the Brexit debates (with a particular focus on the child protection-related findings of the ESRC project) and our work has been used to frame the recommendations regarding children's rights-related provisions within the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Collaborator Contribution Lawyers from Coram Children's Legal Centre were involved in the child migration workshop of the ESRC project - they have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child migrants. Academics and policy officers from York University and the Children's society were involved in the ESRC project and have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child poverty and welfare. We have also forged new links with the Children's Rights Alliance England, Children's RIghts Alliance Ireland, Together (Scotland), NSPCC, NCB and Barnardos.
Impact The key output so far has been a discussion paper, Making Brexit work for Children, which includes contributions from Helen Stalford and from other members of the Brexit and Children coalition. A series of more specialist briefing papers have also been produced developing different thematic arguments. All are available here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/law/research/european-childrens-rights-unit/brexit/
Start Year 2017
 
Description Brexit and Children Coalition 
Organisation The Children's Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The insights and collaborative links gained from the 'European responses to Global children's rights issues' project placed us in a primary position to lead the campaign to promote children's rights in the Brexit negotiations. Helen Stalford organised and participated in a series of awareness raising events across the UK to illustrate the implications of Brexit for different aspects of children's rights, drawing on many of the findings from the ESRC project. In Sept 2017, Helen Stalford, along with Coram children's legal centre, the Children's Society and the Children's Rights Alliance England, established a UK wide Brexit and Children Coalition composed of over 30 children's rights organisations, academics and practitioners, including the four UK children's commissioners offices. Two briefing events have taken place in Westminster involving peers from the House of Lords and MPs from across the political spectrum. A series of briefing papers and speaking notes have been prepared for parliamentarians to use during the Brexit debates (with a particular focus on the child protection-related findings of the ESRC project) and our work has been used to frame the recommendations regarding children's rights-related provisions within the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Collaborator Contribution Lawyers from Coram Children's Legal Centre were involved in the child migration workshop of the ESRC project - they have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child migrants. Academics and policy officers from York University and the Children's society were involved in the ESRC project and have contributed insights into the implications of Brexit for child poverty and welfare. We have also forged new links with the Children's Rights Alliance England, Children's RIghts Alliance Ireland, Together (Scotland), NSPCC, NCB and Barnardos.
Impact The key output so far has been a discussion paper, Making Brexit work for Children, which includes contributions from Helen Stalford and from other members of the Brexit and Children coalition. A series of more specialist briefing papers have also been produced developing different thematic arguments. All are available here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/law/research/european-childrens-rights-unit/brexit/
Start Year 2017
 
Description Making the Child Friendly Justice Guidelines Child Friendly 
Organisation Investing In Children
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution This collaboration builds on an existing collaboration between ECRU (the European Children's Rights Unit, University of Liverpool) and IiC (Investing in Children - a UK Community Interest which promotes the rights of children and young people). Following the first ESRC seminar on Child Friendly Justice, we were commissioned by the Council of Europe (CoE) to support a group of children and young people to develop a child friendly version of the CoE Child friendly justice Guidelines and to provide a commentary on what they believe will need to be done to make the Guidelines genuinely relevant and useable to children and young people themselves. We have worked in partnership with children and young people who have experience of family justice (care and divorce/contact/residence) proceedings to achieve this.
Collaborator Contribution • Establishing a Young People's Reference Group. Investing in Children recruited a small (4-6) group of young people who have acted as a Reference Group, supported by the staff of Investing in Children and Helen Stalford • Organising 'Agenda Days'. An Agenda Day is a technique developed by IiC, to create an opportunity for children and young people to consider a particular issue and develop their ideas about it. It involves creating an adult-free environment in which children and young people can have a discussion about the Guidelines with a view to developing a more child-accessible version. 15-25 young people attended each of the two Agenda Days organised for this project. • Purpose. The young people at the Agenda Days were asked to consider how accessible the CoE Guidelines are, and to make suggestions as to how they can be made more accessible. They were also asked to consider whether the Guidelines would have assisted them when they were going through their experiences of family proceedings, and make suggestions about what else might need to be done to make the adoption of the Guidelines more effective. • Reporting. The Reference Group drafted reports from the Agenda Days to inform the creation of a draft child-friendly version of the Guidelines along with a commentary (still in progress). This commentary will include examples, drawing on the experiences of the young people, of how the Guidelines would apply in practice. Using video conferencing technology, all of the Agenda Day participants will be invited to come together to consider and endorse the final draft. The University of Liverpool (ECRU) will host a workshop on 26th Nov with the group of young people and IiC to develop an online, animated version of the child friendly justice guidelines. They will then be supported to use these resources to raise awareness of the guidelines among practitioners.
Impact The project is still ongoing (first phase due for completion Dec 2014) but the ouputs will be two-fold: The Council of Europe will receive the considered advice of young people with direct experience of the family justice system, on how best to make the Guidelines useful to children and young people themselves. As part of this, we are working with the children and young people to produce some simple yet effective online animations that can be uploaded onto social media and downloaded into print form; We will also demonstrate to the CoE how children and young people can be engaged as partners in the policy evaluation, development and dissemination process.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Brexit and Children 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact September 2016: European Children's Rights Unit (ECRU, led by Stalford) hosted the first event to assess the impact of Brexit on Children (University of liverpool). Attended by approximately 60 representatives from civil society organisations, academics, practitioners and school pupils; Sept 2017: ECRU worked in partnership with Coram to organise an event at Westminster to brief MPs and peers on the implications of Brexit for children. Attended by approx 50 MPs, peers, children's rights organisations, practitioners and academics and marked the official launch of the Brexit and Children coalition (led by Stalford, Coram, the Children's Rights Alliance England, and the Children's Society); January 2018: Organised a follow up briefing with peers from the House of Lords in preparation for the parliamentary debates on the EU withdrawal bill.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018
URL https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/
 
Description Making the Child Friendly Justice Guidelines Child Friendly 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A little early to comment. Activity still ongoing
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014