The Centre for Children's Rights is a cross-university research centre which operates as a focus for research intended to better understand and improve children’s lives. Our research activity focuses on substantive children’s rights issues, children’s participation in decision making and children’s rights-based research methods. The Centre was established by and is based in the School of Education at Queen’s, led by Laura Lundy, Professor of Education Law and Children’s Rights, and has particular expertise in children’s rights and education.
A key strength of the work of the centre is its emphasis on inter-disciplinary perspectives on children’s rights. Members have expertise in a range of disciplines including education, law, social work, sociology, psychology, nursing and pharmacy. Much of our work to date has focused on the implementation of the UNCRC in Northern Ireland and internationally, as well as in relation to the experiences of vulnerable children and young people, including children in care, the education of young children in socially disadvantaged communities, young people with learning disabilities and mental health issues, children’s rights in societies emerging from conflict.
Underpinning all of the work is a commitment to the participation rights of children and young people. This has been informed by a unique conceptualization of Article 12 of the UNCRC, developed by Professor Laura Lundy arising from a landmark study on children’s rights for the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People. This focuses on four components of Article 12 as it relates to other Convention rights:
- Space: Children must be given the opportunity to express a view
- Voice: Children must be facilitated in expressing their view
- Audience: The view must be listened to
- Influence: The view must be acted upon, as appropriate
(see Lundy, L., (2007) ‘Voice is not enough’: Conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’, British Education Research Journal 33(6), 927-942)
The Centre has considerable expertise in relation to participatory research with children and young people. In particular Laura Lundy and Lesley Emerson have developed children’s rights-based approach to research, which has been applied across a number of research projects.
We have close links with the policy community in Northern Ireland and work closely with advocacy organizations aimed at advancing children’s rights. The Centre is also connected internationally to a range of other leading research centres with a focus on child rights.
The Centre is also home to a number of doctoral research students whose research covers a wide number of children’s rights issues and/or employs children’s rights-based methods.
We have particular expertise in relation to children’s rights education and training for researchers and for professionals working with or for children. We offer a number of taught post-graduate modules on children’s rights and are in the process of developing a MSc in Children’s Rights to be operational from September 2014.