Seminar: The Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Assumed Benefits of Greater Entrenchment and Law’s Conversational Function with Lucinda Ferguson

We hope you enjoyed the presentation & lively discussion this past Friday with Lucinda Ferguson!


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Our seminar with Lucinda Ferguson, entitled “The Convention on the Rights of the Child: The Assumed Benefits of Greater Entrenchment and Law’s Conversational Function” will take place on Friday, 27 May, from 12:30-2:00PM, in Seminar Room B of the Manor Road Building.

A sandwich lunch will be provided.

RSVP is kindly requested, for catering purposes; please visit to indicate your attendance and preferences. To guarantee lunch, please ensure you fill in this form no later than 12PM the day before.


When Somalia ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child in October 2015, a joint statement from various UN bodies praised it for having ‘committed to uphold the dignity and worth of every child and translate the obligations of the CRC into concrete actions, especially for those children in greater need and at the greatest risk’. Somalia’s ratification leaves the United States as the sole obstacle to declaring genuinely universal ratification of the CRC. The joint statement welcoming Somalia’s ratification and the criticism of the United States’ non-ratification are united by a common assumption – that ratification of the Convention itself benefits children.

This paper challenges this assumption. Not because I wish to propose that the US should not ratify the CRC (as it should); rather, I suggest the need for greater reflection on the inherent value of greater domestic internalisation of the CRC. There exists a lack of clarity surrounding the key concepts of the CRC, a failure to engage with why children need their rights affirming separately from adults, and an absence of an international consensus over what incorporation actually means. I propose that we need to move beyond the signalling or expressive function of law, to examine how law reform may support or alternatively hinder the conversations which need to take place around legal change and children’s rights.
Lucinda Ferguson is Associate Professor of Family Law at the University of Oxford and Tutorial Fellow in Law at Oriel College, Oxford. Her research is focused on family law theory, particularly children’s rights theory and financial obligations within the family. In 2015, she was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Oxford; and in 2011-12, the Oxford University Student Union Teaching Award for the Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Social Sciences Division. Outside of the University, she is an Associate Member of 1 King’s Bench Walk, a leading specialist family and children’s law barristers’ chambers.

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Cover image credit: Josh Pesavento / Flickr


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