08th June 2023


Streamed via Zoom and in person at Wellcome Collection

Doughty Street Chambers Children’s Rights Group Annual Children’s Rights Lecture

Thursday 8 June 2023, 16.00 – 17:30 BST (Hybrid), followed by a drinks reception until 19:00 BST

Every year, in November, the international community celebrates World Children’s Day. It is a key opportunity to promote awareness of children’s rights and what is needed to achieve them.

This year’s Children’s Rights Lecture will be taking place in person and online and will feature a lecture from Professor Ann Skelton, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Ann is a Professor of Law and holds the UNESCO Chair in Education Law at the University of Pretoria, and the Chair on Children’s Rights in a Sustainable World at the University of Leiden. She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, and teaches in the Oxford Masters on International Human Rights. She has worked as a children’s rights lawyer in South Africa for over 30 years. She established the strategic litigation work at the Centre for Child Law, and appeared as counsel in numerous landmark cases, including 12 in the South African Constitutional Court. Her global influence has been recognised through the Juvenile Justice Without Borders award (2017), the Honourary Worlds’ Children’s Prize (2012), her involvement as Chairperson of the Advisory Board of the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty (2017-2019), and being appointed as a Global Ambassador for the British Society of Criminology.  Ann is currently a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, having been elected in 2020 for a second term of office, where she was chairperson of the working group on communications from Jan 2020 to Jan 2023.

Ann will speak on the ‘Pushbacks (and fallbacks) on children's rights’.

On the Global human rights stage, the space for children’s rights is shrinking. In the Human Rights Council, children’s status as rights-holders is being questioned under a shroud of enthusiasm for socio-cultural diversity and patriarchal attitudes. Children’s agency, autonomy and right to participate are being challenged. Article 5 of the CRC on parental guidance of children according to their evolving capacities is being interpreted to mean that parents have superior rights that can be used to limit their children’s rights. Civil and political rights are under particular attack, as well as girls’ rights and the rights of children of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Sexual rights and the concept of bodily autonomy are questioned. At the same time, UN bodies refer increasingly to ‘youth rights’, with ‘child rights mainstreaming’ falling back into oblivion not long after it was declared a major theme by the UN Secretary General. This talk will explore how and why push-back against child rights is gaining ground at both country and international levels.

The event will be chaired by Academic Expert Professor Aoife Nolan, Children’s Rights Group Co-Lead at Doughty Street Chambers.

The lecture will be followed by an expert panel discussion, as well as a Q&A session with the audience. The panellists will be:

The event brochure is available here.

The recording of the seminar is available below