Children in War and Armed Conflicts

4 September-15 October 2019 (E04419) | Register for this course (opens in new window)
Instructor: Esther Obdam

Armed conflicts around the world continue to expose many millions of children to inexcusable forms of violence, including abduction, rape, mutilation, forced displacement and sexual exploitation. In some contexts, children often taken on active roles in conflict, forced to participate either to carry weapons as combatants or to assume auxiliary roles. The breakdown of social protection that occurs during every armed conflict leaves all children vulnerable. Many children are threatened with separation from their families, orphaning, disability and serious, long-term psychosocial consequences; girls are especially at risk of unwanted pregnancy.

This certificate course examines the effect of armed conflict on children in the 21st century. It looks at the various ways in which children are involved in conflicts and the substantial impact that they can have on children’s mental and physical well-being. The course highlights concrete actions that can be taken to contribute to the full implementation of children’s rights in conflict and post-conflict contexts, including through the application of humanitarian law; and the increasing ways in which perpetrators can be held to account.

Course structure

This e-learning course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, interaction with students and the instructors on discussion boards, quizzes and webinars with invited guests. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1: Changing nature of conflict
Week 2: Responsibility to children in times of conflict
Week 3: Children associated with armed forces and groups
Week 4: Impact of conflict on children
Week 5: Rehabilitation and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict
Week 6: Justice for children and the role of children in transitional justice

About the instructor: Esther Obdam

Esther ObdamEsther Obdam has extensive experience working in child rights, with particular focus on protection and participation of children affected by armed conflict. She has worked in head office and field positions, with national and international organisations, as well as the United Nations. Most recently, she worked with War Child Holland, first as the Child Protection Coordinator, supporting the field teams in conflict and post conflict areas, and then as the Programme Development Manager in South Kivu, Eastern Congo, in charge of the development and implementation of programming in support of children affected by conflict. Esther holds an MA in International Relations from the Utrecht University.

Who should apply

The course is intended for humanitarian and human rights officers, human rights staff of NGOs, international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and intergovernmental and government agencies, children’s advocates, university students of international law, international relations, politics and other areas, practitioners who want to learn about children’s rights and children in armed conflict. The course is also intended for staff members of UN specialised agencies who want to learn more about children’s issues in the context of armed conflict and war. Participants should have at least basic knowledge of human rights. Participants should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. Human Rights Campus aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants:€ 435 (€ 405 after 1 July 2019); tuition for auditors€ 135 (€ 165 after 1 July 2019). Payments can be made online with major credit cards (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa), PayPal and bank transfer. Bulk rates are available. Payments are due upon registration.

How to register

Register for this course (opens in new window).

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about HREA’s e-learning courses.