Legal initiative aims to improve children’s rights in developing world

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The Global Child Law Fellowship 2021-22, co-sponsored by Beijing Children’s Legal Aid Research Center and the Child Law International Alliance (CLIA), was launched in September in Burundi, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, India and the Philippines. Twelve lawyers from the countries focusing on child protection issues, along with consultants from China and Switzerland, recently held discussions on the child protection challenges faced by developing countries and shared the legal journeys of their own countries.

In the first virtual meeting of the fellowship, child protection lawyers and academics specializing in child law expressed their commitment to helping draft relevant laws in developing countries. They also showed their commitment to establishing a child protection legal network across continents and developing it into a strong force for the realization of children’s rights in every country.

Members of the fellowship are mostly practicing lawyers in Asian and African countries who have significant experience in dealing with child protection cases in slums, families and local communities. Many of them are also actively involved in charitable organisations and advocate for child protection and children’s rights.

During discussions on child protection work, one of the participants, Vivian Nyaata, a lawyer and lecturer at the Law School of the Catholic University of East Africa, said that the biggest child protection challenges in Kenya involve the limited awareness of protecting children’s rights, child marriages and the nation’s poor education system. Another participant, Godfrey Gimeno, a lawyer and the legal counsel of the Tanzanian child protection organization C-Sema, revealed that the biggest difficulty of child protection work in his country is the lack of funds and support from wider society. He mentioned that many violations of children’s rights take place due to local culture and traditions, which are hard to change.

The Beijing Youth Legal Aid and Research Center was established in 1999. It was the first non-profit legal institution to specialize in children’s legal aid and research, and is now one of China’s most influential organizations in the field. The center provides direct legal aid to thousands of Chinese minors and promotes the reform of the country’s child protection legislation and policies.

CLIA is an international nongovernmental organization registered in Geneva. Its mission is to support child protection organizations and legal professionals focusing on child protection, in particular those from developing countries, to promote the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its implementation in different countries.