Established in 2018, the Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law serves as a focal point for the wide range of research, teaching and outreach activity taking place in the areas of children’s rights and family law at the School of Law at University College Cork. The School is host to one of the only specialist LLM degrees in this area of law in Ireland or the UK, and also hosts the Child Law Clinic and the Family Law Clinic, through which staff and postgraduate students support litigation and engage in advocacy work (notable successes include the case of O’Keeffe v Ireland before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in 2014).
In June 2017, the School acted as the local host organisation for the 7th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, which was a four-day event in Dublin that attracted over 600 delegates and over 150 speakers from over 50 countries. Academic staff at the Centre regularly publish their research as journal articles and monographs with leading international publishers and are managing a range of research projects funded by the European Commission and the Irish Research Council, among others. Centre members include Professor Ursula Kilkelly, Dr Conor O’Mahony, Dr Louise Crowley, Dr Fiona Donson, Dr Aisling Parkes, Dr Catherine O’Sullivan and a number of doctoral and masters researchers.
Co-ordinated by the AIRE Centre in London, this award-winning Project’s aim is to promote a joined up child-centred approach by legal professionals who work with children separated (or being separated) from their families. It will enable legal practitioners to:
- Share their experiences of the situation of separated children in all the different kinds of legal proceedings which affect them, e.g. taking children into care, contact and residence issues in private law disputes, relocation or abduction, the child victims of trafficking or whose parents are such victims, the effects on children of prisoners of sentencing and sentence management decisions, the situation of minor asylum seekers, including both accompanied and unaccompanied minors, the impact of immigration measures on children. This will enable them to identify the best practices in one field with a view to applying then in another.
- Learn or expand knowledge of how to use, for the benefit of separated children, the available European and international remedies, such as the European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee on Social Rights and the third Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure (OP3). Two of the project partner countries – Ireland and Belgium – have accepted the right of individual petition to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under OP3 to that Convention.
- Expand their familiarity with the relevant legislation and case law e.g. EU acquis (legislative and jurisprudential), the ECHR jurisprudence and the case law of the ESC relevant to developing child-centred justice for children in situations where they and their parents or siblings are separated or being separated – for example in situations arising from children seeking international protection as asylum seekers or who are victims of trafficking, who have been abducted or whose parents are imprisoned in another jurisdiction.
Children’s competence is the fundamental axis around which their legal rights revolve. It is crucial in areas such as medical consent, sexual exploitation and criminal culpability to understand whether children’s views and choices are ‘their own’. Yet there is little agreement on how (or even whether) to measure or understand competence, though it is often cited in various areas of law and practice. Children’s rights are therefore in danger of losing meaning as competence is not understood; and adult/child power dynamics insufficiently recognised. Children’s lawyers, judges, doctors and other practitioners make decisions as to children’s ‘competence’ seemingly in a knowledge vacuum, as theory and evidence appear only to exist in developmental psychology; a discipline which is contested, overly-clinical, and largely impenetrable to outsiders. This Independent Social Research Foundation-funded study critiques developmental psychology approaches to children’s competence in light of scholarship from childhood, disability and feminist theory; in order to enhance understanding of how children’s competence should be approached in a way which gives full acknowledgement to the importance of context (information, power etc.).
Assessing Children’s Capacity through the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by Dr Aoife Daly, UCC School of Law
Read here: Assessing Children's Capacity through the UNCRC [pdf]
This article seeks to reconceptualise approaches to assessing children’s capacity, and it is argued that efforts by professionals, theorists and others to understand capacity should be done via a process which is explicitly rights-based. An approach to children’s capacity is proposed through four concepts based on the CRC: Autonomy, Evidence, Support and Protection.
'Children/Youth and the Right to a Healthy Environment COP27 Reflections 2023' Seminar
On-line Seminar, Friday 11th November 2023
- 2.05 Dina Lupin, Director of Global Network on Human Rights and the Environment/Lecturer, University of Southampton, 'What is the right to a healthy environment'. 2.20
- 2.20 Aoife Nolan, Professor, University of Nottingham, ‘Children’s Rights and Future Generations’ Rights – Ensuring Mutual Support’. 2.35
- 2.35 Alicia O' Sullivan, Law Student/Climate Justice Advocate, University College Cork 'COP and the experience of children and youth advocates’. 2.50
- 2.55 -Aoife Daly, Lecturer, University College Cork, 'Child/youth climate activism: A Postpaternalist Era for Children's Rights?' 3.05
- 3.05- Alana Lancaster, Lecturer, University of the West Indies, Barbados, 'Children's rights and the ocean'. 3.20
- 3.20 -Maria Antonia Tigre, Global Climate Litigation fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, 'Climate litigation and the Global South'. 3.35