Leiden University and Unicef extend cooperation on children’s rights
Leiden University and Unicef have already been working together for ten years to increase and share information on children’s rights. They are extending this cooperation. Professor of Children’s Rights Ton Liefaard explains what has already been achieved and what he wants to achieve in the next five years.
Children’s rights are a relatively young field of law and ten years ago there was a great need for research and teaching in this field. Leiden University, Unicef children’s rights organisation and the Leiden University Fund therefore started the Unicef chair in Children’s Rights. ‘We can see that more knowledge is needed about children’s rights and that there is a huge need for knowledge exchange.’ The chair, which Liefaard holds, is now being extended for five years.
What has been achieved in the past ten years with the chair?
Two master’s programmes have been started: the Master’s in Child Law for Dutch students and the Master of Laws: Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights for international students. The latter attracts students from all over the world. ‘We therefore contribute to a new generation of professionals who know how important it is to address children’s rights,’ says Liefaard. ‘We can see that our alumni are active all around the world.’
‘We have become a kind of catalyst for knowledge on children’s rights.’
In addition, a lot of research has been conducted into children’s rights in recent years. This has further developed the discipline. ‘We have also brought together a lot of people who now work together in children’s rights,’ Liefaard says. ‘So I’m talking about research, teaching and professionals. In that sense we have become a kind of catalyst of knowledge on children’s rights.’ The Leiden Children’s Rights Observatory, an open-access database of case commentaries, is a good example of this.
The next five years
In the next five years, Liefaard wants to work more with Unicef across the entire breadth of this UN children’s rights organisation. ‘We can help shape their agenda for the coming years. What are the big global issues that they need to focus on? And how can countries around the world be helped to realise children’s rights?’
To answer these questions, Liefaard wants to work with different faculties. ‘Leiden University has very diverse expertise that can help resolve global children’s rights issues. Issues relating to medicine, technology, governance, sustainability, climate, the digital world and inclusion. We can have an impact together in resolving these issues.’
Text: Dagmar Aarts
Photos: Hielco Kuipers