Law of Peace and Children’s Right to have Rights

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights

International law’s affirmation of everyone’s right to have rights came into being through a peacemaking process. Its deprivation continues to typify the emergent context that brings peace processes into being – and for some cohorts of the people, namely children, the process itself. The right is intuitively seductive. It resonates as self-evident: an inexorable abstraction of having rights. Yet it is also enigmatic and challenging to concretise. What is its content? What substantive rights are expressive of this right? What is their scope in peacemaking? And why is it – above for example more corporeal rights – so fundamental? Guided by these questions, the paper begins by reflecting on the right as crystallised by Hannah Arendt: it then shifts to reflecting on, first, its expression in international law and, second, its interrelations with the law of peace. In doing so, it yields legal and political opportunities for ensuring the right in peacemaking, and imagines a framework of evolving measures for bringing the right to life in the staged process. The paper concludes by arguing renewing engagement with this understated right offers a beacon for guiding responses to the complex child rights challenges yielded by peacemaking – and our interdependent and fragile twenty-first century world more generally.

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