Children's Human Rights - An Interdisciplinary Introduction

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About this course: Drawing on the contributions of several academic disciplines including law, psychology, sociology, history, educational and health sciences, economy and anthropology, an interdisciplinary approach guides the student into a selection of critical issues concerning children’s rights. Participants will gain insight relative to the development of this specific human rights category, as well as to the evolution of the challenges faced by children over time and society’s efforts to respond. Successful international strategies and programs promoting children’s rights will be highlighted, as well as the role of key actors involved in international organizations working in this…

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Didn't find what you were looking for? See also: Human Rights, Mediation, Psychology, Public speaking & presentation, and Persuasion & Influencing.

When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: Drawing on the contributions of several academic disciplines including law, psychology, sociology, history, educational and health sciences, economy and anthropology, an interdisciplinary approach guides the student into a selection of critical issues concerning children’s rights. Participants will gain insight relative to the development of this specific human rights category, as well as to the evolution of the challenges faced by children over time and society’s efforts to respond. Successful international strategies and programs promoting children’s rights will be highlighted, as well as the role of key actors involved in international organizations working in this field. This open online course provides an overview of the most important features of children’s human rights. A central portion of the MOOC will consist of a presentation of the international and regional standards on children’s rights and the related international and regional judicial and quasi-judicial bodies designed to ensure their implementation. No prerequisites or specific background is required to register for this MOOC. The course is conceived as an introductory level program, but participants, who wish to deepen their knowledge in the field of children’s rights, or already have some prior knowledge, will have access to additional reading material on a weekly basis. Participants who successfully complete the class activities and final assessment may request a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the Instructor and the main professors responsible for the program. However, no credits are awarded. The course consists of seven topical modules distributed on 4 weeks. English is the only language of instruction.

Created by:  University of Geneva
  • Taught by:  Roberta Ruggiero, Dr

    Center for Children's Rights Studies
  • Taught by:  Philip D. Jaffé, Professor

    Center for Children's Rights Studies
  • Taught by:  Jean Zermatten, Dr. h. c.

    Center for Children's Rights Studies and International Institute for Children's Rights
Level Beginner Language English, Subtitles: Slovak How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.6 stars Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said Coursework

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University of Geneva Founded in 1559, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is one of Europe's leading universities. Devoted to research, education and dialogue, the UNIGE shares the international calling of its host city, Geneva, a centre of international and multicultural activities with a venerable cosmopolitan tradition.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


International standards and monitoring systems



The module begins with the presentation of the background, origins and main content of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and provides details about the preparatory work and the international political context in which the Convention was drafted. The content of international human rights norms are discussed using the subdivision between civil and political rights on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other. Furthermore, the general UN human rights monitoring mechanisms will be introduced, followed by the presentation of the CRC monitoring system. A discussion on the importance of regional human rights monitoring systems for children in Africa, Asia and Latin America will be the subject of a specific round table. Within the monitoring framework a particular attention is dedicated to role of key actors: Independent National Human Rights Institutions (INHRIs) on Children’s rights, Non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) and children.


11 videos, 1 reading expand


  1. Video: General Presentation
  2. Reading: Syllabus
  3. Video: 1.1 Introduction
  4. Video: 1.2 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: from drafting to reception.
  5. Video: 1.2bis CRC General Principles
  6. Video: 1.3 Main content of the CRC and the related States obligations
  7. Video: 1.4 UN Committee on the right of the child: role, structure, functioning and method of works
  8. Video: 1.5 The CRC Communications procedure
  9. Video: 1.6 Overview regional monitoring system
  10. Video: 1.7 The role of the INHRIs on Children’s rights in the monitoring process at national and local level
  11. Video: 1.8 NGOs’ role in the monitoring process
  12. Video: 1.9 Children's subjective indicators: children’s participation in monitoring

Graded: Quiz of Module 1

WEEK 2


The history of children’s rights in the context of human rights



This module provides an overview of the evolution of children's rights before the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Based on a chronological approach, it is a comprehensive social and cultural history of children's rights, of the way they developed over the course of the last centuries. While not building on a strict history of diplomatic relations, this module provides an international perspective on this evolution. It aims to underline the multiplicity of actors, networks and organizations involved in the defense and promotion of children's rights, over time. Also, it emphasizes crucial moments of this history, such as the adoption of international legal instruments on the rights of the child, the two World Wars, etc. This module will nonetheless challenge common understandings of the history of children's rights. For instance, instead of describing it as a linear success story, it will highlight progress as well as failures. Also, the idea that the rights of the child are a 20th Century invention will be balanced. By doing so, we aim to provide a complex understanding of the history of children's rights and detailed contexts for the topics they cover (e.g. child labor, juvenile justice, etc.) and that will be studied later in this MOOC.


7 videos expand


  1. Video: 2.1 Introduction
  2. Video: 2.2 History of childhood: a state of the art
  3. Video: 2.3 Children and Health from the Renaissance to the Revolution
  4. Video: 2.4 Children during the industrial revolution
  5. Video: 2.5 Saving the children after WWI and the Geneva Declaration
  6. Video: 2.6 International Organizations and Human rights: From Protection Rights to Children’s Human Rights
  7. Video: 2.7 Regional evolution of children's rights: voices from a recent past - Introduction

Graded: Quiz of Module 2

WEEK 3


Interdisciplinary Children’s Rights Studies



The module will provide a general introduction to the field of children’s rights studies. It will emphasize the interdisciplinary outlook of the field and will present schools of thought in children’s rights. Furthermore, we will show the links between children’s rights and the sociology and anthropology of childhood and provide some examples of recent children’s rights research and practice.


6 videos expand


  1. Video: 3.1 Introduction
  2. Video: 3.2 Interdisciplinary children's rights studies
  3. Video: 3.3 Fruits, salads, and smoothies: working together for understanding children's rights
  4. Video: 3.4 Schools of thought in children's rights
  5. Video: 3.5 Agency and structure in childhood studies
  6. Video: 3.6 The anthropology of childhood

Graded: Quiz of Module 3

WEEK 4


Juvenile justice



The field of Juvenile Justice (JJ) or of systems of Justice specialized for children in conflict with the law, is the field of children’s rights where the international community has drafted the largest amount of legislation (national, regional and international). It is obviously a very sensitive field where child rights violations are numerous, where violence in institutions must be deplored, and where the response is not always child-friendly, and does not systematically favor individual child development. It is moreover a domain where the State exerts its power in response to child offenses, very often through the deprivation of liberty ; and where the State’s interference also represses non-criminal behavior (running away, breaking disciplinary rules, breaking curfews, …), all of these actions would not be legally reprehensible if committed by an adult (status offence). And, alas this field of JJ sometimes accounts for violations of children’s rights at the hands of States themselves: in the arrest phase, in administrative detention, in the execution of judiciary sentences, but also in institutional care. The issue of JJ also includes children victims and witnesses.


9 videos expand


  1. Video: 4.1 Introduction
  2. Video: 4.2 Overview of the international legal framework on juvenile justice and child protection
  3. Video: 4.3 Interview on the Council of Europe Guidelines on child friendly justice: background and motivation
  4. Video: 4.4 Minimum age of criminal responsibility
  5. Video: 4.5 Protecting children's rights in JJ systems / “What works”: Effective methods to reduce juvenile delinquency
  6. Video: 4.6 Deprivation of Liberty
  7. Video: 4.7 Children as victims and witnesses
  8. Video: 4.8 Restorative Juvenile Justice
  9. Video: 4.9 Torture

Graded: Quiz of Module 4

WEEK 5


Violence against children



Protection is a central pillar in the field of children’s rights and a dimension that probably, along with health and education, captures most of society’s financial outlays in favour of children. Because of their young age and their physical status, children are much more vulnerable than other social groups and indeed the victimisation of children around the world reaches staggering proportions. In this module, we will examine various forms of age-old and emerging forms of violence against children, the institutional and professional responses to the phenomenon.


8 videos expand


  1. Video: 5.1 Introduction
  2. Video: 5.2 Violence against children: An overview
  3. Video: 5.3 The vulnerable child: A historical perspective
  4. Video: 5.4 Ending corporal punishment of children
  5. Video: 5.5 Emerging challenges in the protection of children
  6. Video: 5.6 Internet, social media and violence against children
  7. Video: 5.7 Combatting child trafficking
  8. Video: 5.8 A revolution in pofessional practices

Graded: Quiz of Module 5

WEEK 6


Children’s right to participation



Art. 12 to 17 and art. 31 UNCRC are considered to refer to “participation rights”. These rights are considered the most “revolutionary” under the provisions of the UNCRC because they challenge traditional and tokenistic conceptions of childhood. The challenge however also lies in the balance to be found, in all settings, between structural adaptations necessary to favour child participation and the evolving capacities of the children themselves, who can only progressively exert their own rights directly. Another aspect is participation of children as individuals or as groups, notably their collective decision-making capacity. It looks like practice has outstripped theory. The difference between the child as a subject of rights and the child’s real agency as a social actor needs more theoretical frameworks, as the problem of implementation is also a problem of our own understanding of agency. Among the modes of recognition, rights are only a limited part of the reality experienced by children mainly in terms of affection and esteem. The challenges of implementing children’s participation rights in a series of settings, as recommended by CRC General Comment Nr 12, are therefore conveying an analysis of the terms used (maturity, freely expressed views, etc.) that may include children’s own perspectives on these issues. Examples of procedures for the implementation of children’s participation rights highlight all these challenges and the difficulties of defining good indicators of child participation. Besides, child participation should also be guaranteed even when children are viewed as “deviant” or “delinquent”: the respect for child participation in judicial settings highlights the complex interplay between one’s status and one’s rights in practice. Eventually, as child participation should be guaranteed in all settings, research itself should be child-friendly and participative and ethical principles for researchers must be specified when dealing with children.


10 videos expand


  1. Video: 6.1 Introduction
  2. Video: 6.2 Introduction to participation rights
  3. Video: 6.3 The right of the child to be heard: General Comment no.12
  4. Video: 6.4 Children’s Rights and Recognition
  5. Video: 6.5 Children's participation as social actors
  6. Video: 6.6 Sampling of implementation procedure
  7. Video: 6.7 Childhood policy and children's subjective indicators
  8. Video: 6.8 The rights to be heard in judicial settings
  9. Video: 6.9 Ethical research procedures
  10. Video: 6.10 Child participation in research

Graded: Quiz of Module 6

WEEK 7


Children’s rights and global health



Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization 22 July 1946). Certain traditional practices committed on children compromise sometimes severely both their physical and moral development and thus affect their health. These practices while explicitly prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at. art. 24.3 CRC are widely committed in quasi total impunity. Even if some traditional harmful practices concern more specific regions of the globe, due to migratory movements, in fine every State is concerned. Global health is a universal concept of human rights and contributes to, the realization of many other children’s rights such as the right of non-discrimination (art. 2 CRC), the right to life, survival and development (art.6 CRC), the right to participation (art. 12 CRC) the right to privacy (art. 16 CRC) or the right to access to information (art. 17 CRC). Placing children’s rights in the context of traditional harmful practices and global health, adopting a child’s rights based approach, contributes to a better understanding of the problem and thus to a better care of the victims.


8 videos expand


  1. Video: 7.1 Introduction
  2. Video: 7.2 Overview on the traditional practices phenomenon
  3. Video: 7.3 Child witchcraft allegation: invented traditional practices
  4. Video: 7.4 FGM: the girl child
  5. Video: 7.5 Global health, human rights and ethics
  6. Video: 7.6 Children's rights and global mental health
  7. Video: 7.7 Children’s right and the obesity epidemic
  8. Video: 7.8 Children’s health and wellbeing: Issues and challenges from a human rights perspective

Graded: Quiz of Module 7
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