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Queen’s collaborate on new Implementation Guide on the Rights of Child Human Rights Defenders

Guidance on the Rights of Child Human Rights Defenders, written by Professor Laura Lundy from the Centre for Children’s Rights at Queen’s University Belfast, has recently been launched by Child Rights Connect.

The launch comes after a year-long consultative process in collaboration with Child Rights Connect, Queen’s University, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human rights defenders (SR on HRDs), many international child and human rights organisations and experts and child human rights defenders (CHRDs). 

The 2018 Day of General Discussion of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on “Protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders”,  for which Professor Lundy acted as an expert advisor, shed light on the generalised lack of understanding of the rights of CHRDs and identified major protection gaps at all levels.  The Implementation Guide on the Rights of Child Human Rights Defenders  clarifies: 

  • the definition of “child human rights defender”,  
  • what is distinctive about CHRDs and the contexts in which they act, 
  • the rights that CHRDs are entitled to and how these must be respected, protected and fulfilled at all levels through the coordinated implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Declaration on human rights defenders. 

The Implementation Guide provides recommendations for States, parents/ guardians, schools and other public service providers, national and international human rights organisations, civil society organisations and Child Human Rights Defenders themselves.

Speaking at the launch Professor Laura Lundy, main author of the Guide, Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights, and from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen’s University said:

“We need to move from a discourse that is based on permission – we ‘allow’ children to act as human rights defenders – to a recognition of a child rights-based focus – that children are entitled to act as human rights defenders. We must stop asking questions such as: ‘when can they?’ ‘At what age should we let them join an association, attend a protest and access social media’? The question should be: how can they? How can states, civil societies and other actors support children and enable children to exercise the full range of civil and political rights? We need to reframe our thinking… and this is what I hope the Guide does.”

“[CHRDs] are protagonists in the fight for their rights and we – adults and institutions – must respect them, accompany them and empower them.” explains Luis Pedernera, Chairperson of the CRC Committee, in the preface of the Guide.  

“…this publication is a very good example of how different UN Human Rights mechanisms or UN entities, as well as committed civil society organizations and academia, can effectively work together to shed the light on implementation gaps in the realization of children’s rights and put the recognition and support of child human rights defenders on the agenda.”, welcomed the representative of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland.  

The Implementation Guide is available here and the quick introduction document is available here.

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Media enquiries to Zara McBrearty at Queen’s Communications Office on Tel: 07795676858 or email: