Children, Rights, and the Law

Children, Rights, and the Law

Children, Rights, and the Law

Children, Rights, and the Law


In November 1989 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, heralding the arrival of a new era in the development of children's rights. Using the Convention as a framework, this volume re-evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of approaching issues of children's welfare and well-being through the lens of a "rights" approach. The authors take a fresh look at these issues, with specific reference to an international treaty that is certain to be ratified by a very large number of countries in every region of the world and which will soon be legally binding in many states. The contributors are Tom Campbell, Onora O'Neill, Michael Freeman, Ngaire Naffine, Margaret Coady, Tony Coady, Sheila McLean, Frances Olsen, and John Eekelaar.


The papers and comments in this volume are drawn from contributions to a Workshop on 'Children, Rights and the Law' organized by the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University in July 1991. The purpose of the Workshop was to use the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a vehicle for exploring some theoretical and practical problems with children's rights. The word 'vehicle' might suggest that the Convention was used merely as a way of going somewhere else. To an extent that is how things turned out. The Convention played a larger part in some contributions than in others. At the same time, all participants recognized that the Convention has intrinsic merit and that, now it exists on paper, attempts should be made to harness its progressive potential.

The papers contained here have all been revised in the light of intensive discussion over the four days of the Workshop. Most of the important editorial decisions were taken at the early stage of settling upon who should be invited to participate in the Workshop and what they should be invited to write about. If there are faults concerning balance and topic selection then the responsibility is borne by the editors collectively rather than the authors individually.

We owe various debts of gratitude. Glen Brennan and Emilija Beswick undertook most of the administrative burden of organizing the Workshop.The Faculty of Law at the ANU, through its Centre for International and Public Law, provided essential material assistance. John Eekelaar and Robert Dingwall, as editors of the International Journal of Law and the Family, helped to steer the contents through the production process. The staff of Oxford University Press and especially Richard Hart were, as usual, tolerant of individual acts of editorial delinquency.




Australian National University

January 1992 . . .

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