Children’s Rights (Foundation Course)

2 May-12 June 2018 (E04118) | Register for this course (opens in new window)
Instructor: Dr. Angela Melchiorre

The emergence of the child as a subject of rights has been influenced by developmental, social, political, and legal theories. In this context, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has contributed in a major way towards a better understanding of childhood and children’s rights through its definition of the child as “every human being below the age of 18 years, unless under the law applicable to the child majority is attained earlier” (art. 1). Childhood and children’s rights, however, go beyond a matter of age and involve issues of development, capacity, protection and autonomy, as the CRC itself indeed recognises in its general principles.

Being able to recognise the numerous features of childhood and what they entail in terms of respect, protection and fulfilment of rights is the first step towards more effective interventions in any activity with and for children. This e-learning course introduces participants to the foundations of children’s rights in three areas:

• conceptual framework for the development of rights for children;
• international legal standards and mechanisms;
• definition of the child and general principles.

Participants will deepen their knowledge about the origins of children’s rights and the rationale behind them, with particular attention to issues of universal and local application. The course will also focus on development, capacity, protection and autonomy as an overall integrated framework rather than distinct elements. Through a combination of theoretical and practical analysis, the course will equip participants with the basic knowledge and tools necessary to gain a critical understanding of children’s rights.

Course structure

This certificate course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, discussion, webinars, a writing assignment and quizzes, and is offered over a six-week period. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. Participants will do the required readings, prepare interim and final assignments and participate in group discussions. Case studies will be used to enable interactive learning and activities. 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: Why children’s rights?
Week 2: Definition of the child in international and regional legal standards
Week 3: The CRC general principles
Week 4: Protecting children’s rights
Week 5: Recognising children’s evolving capacities
Week 6: The “right” balance between protection and autonomy?

About the instructor: Dr. Angela Melchiorre

Angela MelchiorreDr. Angela Melchiorre has been involved in teaching and training since the year 2000. She is currently Lecturer at the University of Padua and consultant for UNICEF and the UN CEDAW Committee. Previously, she was the Programme Director of the European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA) in Venice, Italy, and Research Coordinator for the Right to Education Project at ActionAid International in London, which she still supports as a member of their Advisory Panel.

Angela also worked as Lecturer in Human Rights at the University of London and as Human Rights Advisor for the Italian Permanent Mission at the UN in Geneva and New York. In her personal capacity she has also been a consultant for UNESCO-IBE and the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, the late Katarina Tomaševski.

Angela’s areas of expertise are children’s rights, the right to education and the UN human rights system. She is the author of At what age… are school-children employed, married and taken to court?, a worldwide comparative analysis of minimum ages under the reporting system of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As a spin-off from that research, Angela wrote her PhD thesis on the minimum age for marriage and the CRC. Angela has been a course instructor for HREA since 2010. She also instructs The Right to Education course.

Who should apply

The course is intended for, among others, child rights advocates, youth workers, social workers, staff members of development and children’s rights/social justice organisations, including development NGOs and UN specialised agencies like UNICEF. Participants should have a good written command of English — the working language of the course — and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA aims to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants.


Tuition fee for participants: € 405 (after 1 February 2018: € 465); tuition for auditors€ 155 (€ 185 after 1 February 2018). 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.

Testimonials by course participants