Societies and states are at a crossroads in their conception and treatment of children. The traditional view of children as vulnerable individuals has been challenged in many countries and is under pressure in the remaining world. The recognition that children also are individual citizens and that their treatment is a direct concern of the state, is a consequence of the Western modernization. This view is particularly captured in human rights standards: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 prescribes children rights that, at least formally, puts children on equal footing as adults in our societies. States are thus obliged to:
– provide for children’s well being
– protect them from harm
– ensure that the best interests of the child is a primary consideration in decisions taken by government and welfare institutions.
Children are furthermore given rights to participate in matters concerning them, strengthening the idea that children possess their own interests.
However, the rise of children’s rights is not without complication. It challenges traditional relationships between family and the state, and demands new institutional relationships between children and the state, and the role of law in implementing children’s rights. Empirically, questions of compliance and development of policy and legal regulations happens in the intersection of frontline practice, institutional constructions and cultural developments in societies. Thus, the appropriate role of law and its impact, and the politics are engendered by the entry of new actors and discourses. The Child Rights Unit at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation seeks to address normative, legal and empirical research questions. The unit aims to understand the role of law and administrative, political and judicial institutions as well as ideas, interpretations and practices around children´s rights that are embedded in societies cultural practices.
The Child Rights Unit is coordinated by Marit Skivenes.
The topic of the Bergen 2017 colloquium is “UNCRC Art 2 – Ensuring non-discriminatory welfare practices for children – theoretical and practical perspectives”.
Marit Skivenes has been selected by the European Research Council, to receive the highly prestigious Consilidators Grant.