Between ‘believers’ and ‘opponents’: Critical discussions on children’s rights

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
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  • 1 University College Ghent, Belgium
  • 2 Ghent University, Belgium
  • 3 University College Ghent, Belgium

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Practices in the field of children’s rights presuppose an agreement on what children’s rights are. Consequently, the implementation of more children’s rights is logically better for children. But is this really the case? In this paper, we try to answer this question critically. The problem with this question however is that from the outset, it becomes overshadowed by a highly polarised discussion between what calls ‘uncritical proponents’ at the one hand and ‘uncritical opponents’ at the other hand. The former have a blind belief in the obvious positive effects of children’s rights. The latter radically deny the value children’s rights can have in the aim to realise a greater respect for children. Neither positions are constitutive in strengthening the framework of children’ rights since they both start from a ‘consensus thinking’ on children’s rights. What current thinking in children’s rights lacks is “critique”, considered as questioning and analyzing assumptions that are embedded in current practices in the field of children’s rights. In this article, we argue for the development of a tradition of “critical proponents” in children’s rights in a plea for a tradition of ‘critical children’s rights studies’.

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