Seminar: The Best Interests of the Child Principle as an Independent Source of International Protection with Jason Pobjoy

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the best interests principle codified in Article 3 in particular, is playing an increasingly significant role in decisions involving the admission or removal of a child from a host State. The talk will discuss the extent to which the best interests principle may provide an independent source of international protection. That protection may, for instance, proscribe the removal of a child from a host State notwithstanding that the child is ineligible for protection as a refugee or protection under the more traditional non-refoulement obligations in international human rights law.
Dr Jason Pobjoy is a barrister at Blackstone Chambers, where he has a broad practice including public and human rights law, refugee and immigration law and public international law. He maintains a significant pro bono practice, and has acted pro bono for UNHCR, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Bail for Immigration Detainees, Medical Justice, the AIRE Centre, ILGA-Europe, and the International Commission of Jurists.

Jason has published widely in the areas of refugee law, public and human rights law and public international law. His monograph, ‘The Child in International Refugee Law’ will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. Jason lectured in International Human Rights Law at the University of Cambridge and was the founding chair of the Cambridge Pro Bono Project, which has, since its establishment, facilitated the involvement of more than 150 LLM and PhD students in various pro bono projects.

Jason is also an Australian qualified lawyer and practiced for several years as a litigation solicitor. Jason completed a Masters in Law at the University of Melbourne, a Bachelor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford, a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, and he has also been a Research Associate at the Refugee Law Project at Makerere University in Kampala and a Hauser Visiting Doctoral Researcher at New York University School of Law.

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Seminar: “Interrogating Children’s Rights to Participate in Public Decision-Making” with Laura Lundy

Children’s right to participate in public-decision making is now well established in theory and in law. In practice, the right remains elusive with barriers to its realisation often linked to a lack of time or resources and/ or the capacity of both adults and children to engage meaningfully in participation processes. These challenges are magnified when the issues affect children on a global scale or pertain to an issue considered by many to be too complex for children to understand irrespective of its apparent impact on their lives. This paper will reflect on an attempt to meet these challenges and provide meaningful participation in the context of a study conducted with over 2000 children in 71 countries which adopted an explicit rights-based approach to the methods (Lundy and McEvoy, 2012). The research was commissioned to inform the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s forthcoming General Comment on Public Expenditure. The paper will offer some critical reflections on the process and outline the learning from it that is now being applied in subsequent global consultations.

Laura Lundy is a Professor of Education Law and Children’s Rights at Queen’s University, Belfast and a Barrister at Law. She is the Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s (, an interdisciplinary research collaboration on children’s rights. Her expertise is in law and children’s rights, with a particular focus on the implementation of the UNCRC, education rights, and children’s right to participate in decision-making. Her model for child rights-based participation is used widely and has been adopted by the Irish National Participation Strategy. The team at the Centre for Children’s Rights has recently completed a study on public expenditure and children’s rights involving over 2500 children in 71 countries globally funded by Plan International. With Professor Ursula Kilkelly of University College Cork, she is leading a two year study examining the role of NGO advocacy in advancing children’s rights funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies. She has provided advice and/or training on children’s rights to participate to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Child Rights Connect, UNICEF, Eurochild and the Council of Europe.

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Seminar: “Children’s Rights and the Vulnerability of the Child” with Jonathan Herring

Those who argue that children should not have the same rights as adults typically emphasise the vulnerability of children. It is commonly argued that their vulnerability provides a powerful reason why children need to be protected from harms in ways adults do not. Supporters of the claim that children should have equal rights to adults typically respond by challenging the claim that children are especially vulnerable, arguing that children are far more autonomous than is commonly assumed. In this paper I will argue that a more convincing response is not that children are less vulnerable than is commonly assumed, but rather that adults are more vulnerable than is commonly assumed. In short, the case for equal rights for all people, is better premised on the claim we should treat adults like children, than on the claim we should treat children like adults.

Jonathan Herring is Professor of Law at the University of Oxford. He has written extensively on criminal, family and medical law and has recently analyzed legal disputes over contact between children and parents and issues surrounding children’s rights.

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