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Print this pageCRC: From Moral Imperatives to Legal Obligations - In Search of Effective Remedies for Child Rights Violations


From 12/11/2009 to 13/11/2009

Event type:



Geneva, Switzerland


International Save the Children Alliance


Save the Children Geneva office and partners

Contact details:

Cambridge House
100 Cambridge Grove

Tel: 00 44 (0)208 748 2554


Conference focusing on the use of strategic litigation and the CRC to advance children's rights through national and international courts and tribunals. Partner organisations include: UNICEF, OHCHR, the NGO Group for the CRC and CRIN.

Web link

Read the Full Report from the conference

Read a Summary Report from the conference

Read Speeches from the conference


The Rights of the Child: Still in its Infancy

Moral Imperatives to Legal ObligationsIn search

of Effective Remedies for Child Rights Violations

12-13 November 2009

Giving children the voice they deserve

The Convention of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989, has been ratified by close to all states and is recognized as international law. The Convention does not just state what children’s rights are – it goes much further, obliging governments to take all necessary steps to ensure that children’s rights are realised in their country as well as to co-operate internationally on their fulfillment worldwide. Working with the Convention has paved the way for children to be understood as pro-active subjects of human rights and no longer mere objects of concern.

However, twenty years on, violations of child rights are still rarely addressed in courts, and effective remedies are therefore not available to those children that fall victim to such violations.

“Legal action on child rights is still in its infancy in comparison with, for example, the women’s rights movement” says Roberta Cecchetti, Representative to the UN in Geneva. “When a woman is a victim of a violation of her rights, women’s organisations would immediately take legal action and seek justice. When a child is a victim of a violation of his/her rights, child rights organisations would usually write a report… It is now time to go beyond that and start challenging child rights violations in courts.”

The following examples demonstrate how the rights of children have been litigated in court – but such examples are rare, and the Convention is noticeably absent.

  • A group of 18 Roma children from the town of Ostrava in the Czech Republic case brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights in 2000 alleging that their assignment to “special schools” for children with learning disabilities contravened their right to education without discrimination. The case prompted the Czech Republic to change its legislation, but the problem is not yet rectified.

  • In reaction to starvation deaths that had occurred in India in 2001, a coalition of Indian NGOs petitioned the supreme court of India for enforcement of national food schemes and the Famine Code, a code permitting the release of grain stocks in times of famine. As a part of this judgment the court also ordered the reinstatement of the school lunches programme which had essentially closed down in most of the states of India. The reinstatement made education an actual possibility for many impoverished children who were reliant on free school mid-day meals in order to be able to attend school.

The rights included in the Convention are still too often considered merely moral objectives. This is a unique opportunity to mobilise civil society and bring the Convention on the Rights of the Child into the courtroom, where it rightfully belongs.

Download the Conference Media Briefing

Download the Conference Media Invitation

Conference Details

Download the full Conference Pack (en francais / en español) with complete details on the event, including:

1. Welcome by the organizers

2. Welcome by the chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

3. Conference programme

4. Conference methodology

5. Summary of cases

6. Working Groups

7. Speakers’ Biographies

8. CRIN and Child Rights law

9. Glossary of legal terms


Background Reading

Download  the complete Conference Background Reading Document with abstracts and hyperlinks to relevant articles, including:

Child Rights: A Guide to Strategic Litigation

Guide to Child Rights Mechanisms

Courts and the Legal Enforcement of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Comparative Experiences of Justiciability

A Handbook on the Individual Complaints Procedures of the UN Treaty Bodies

The Right to a Remedy and to Reparation for Gross Human Rights Violations - a Practitioner's Guide

Segregation of Roma Children in Education - Addressing Structural Discrimination through the Race Equality Directive

A Home for Every Child - The Right to Shelter for 'Illegal' Children in the Netherlands 

Law Reform and the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Réforme législative et application de la Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant

Las reformas legales y la implementación de la Convención sobre los derechos del niño

Laying the Foundations for Children's Rights – An Independent Study of some Key Legal and Institutional Aspects of the Impact of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Handbook on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

A Study on Violence against girls

South Asia in Action: Preventing and responding to Child Trafficking – Analysis of anti-trafficking initiatives in the region

South Asia in Action: Preventing and Responding to Child Trafficking

Child Rights-Based Programme Practices

South Asia in Action: Preventing and Responding to Child Trafficking - Summary Report

Child Trafficking in Europe – A Broad Vision to Put Children First

Trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, in Africa (second edition)

Innocenti Insight: Children in Immigrant Families in Eight Affluent Countries: Their family, national and international context

Intersectional discrimination against children: discrimination against romani children and anti-discrimination measures to address child trafficking

Children's and adolescents' participation and protection from sexual abuse and exploitation

The right of children to be heard: children's rights to have their views taken into account and to participate in legal and administrative proceedings

Social dynamics of abandonement of harmful practices: a new look at the theory

Reforming Child Law in South Africa: Budgeting and Implementation Planning

Previous Conference items

Last updated 16/02/2010 10:21:05

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