Is the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child Doing Enough?

Professor Paula Gerber and I recently published an empirical analysis of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (‘CRC’) and their relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Human Rights Law Review. Specifically, we examined the CRC’s primary outputs, including its Concluding Observations for the last ten years (2010-2020), all the CRC’s General Comments to date and Views from Individual Communications. This involved an analysis of over 1500 records.

The final article is available at https://doi.org/10.1093/hrlr/ngab012. However, the pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in the Human Rights Law Review following peer review is available below.

In brief, several of our findings suggest that the CRC has become more sensitive to many of the issues facing LGBT children and children with same-sex parents. Quantitatively, the attention the CRC has given to LGBT issues has increased. The terminology used by the CRC also reflected greater inclusiveness over time.

However, our research found that there are several areas for improvement. In particular, it is recommended that the CRC avoid bundling LGBT children and children with same-sex parents

with a long list of other groups of vulnerable children in its Concluding Observations. The CRC should also take a more consistent approach to the consideration of State Parties anti-discrimination legislation and whether it adequate to protect the interests of LGBT children and children with same-sex parents. It is also recommended that the CRC pay closer attention to the Alternative Reports filed by non-government organisations when raising concerns regarding the violation of the rights of LGBT children and children in same-sex families. Concerning the CRC’s General Comments, it is recommended that the CRC publish a General Comment on issues facing LGBT children and children with same-sex parents.

With greater engagement and monitoring of human rights violations against LGBT children and children with same-sex parents, it is hoped that the CRC could continue its important and valuable work in helping to break down negative stereotypes these children face to prevent and minimise harms during the child’s development.

Justice at the Edge: Hearing the Sound of Silence

I am pleased to announce the publication of ‘Justice at the Edge: Hearing the Sound of Silence’ in the latest edition of the Adelaide Law Review.

My coauthors (Kim Economides and Leslie S Ferraz) and I created a short video presenting the significant findings. We hope this piques your interest in the topic and you decide to read the full article, which can be downloaded below.

In brief, we propose the next ‘wave’ in the access to justice is actually a counter-wave. This counter-wave can bring legal knowledge from the legal ‘periphery’ to the legal ‘centre’ to improve access to justice for all peoples. We use the granting of personhood to natural objects in Aotearoa/New Zealand as an example of this phenomenon in action. In particular, First Nations tribes (or iwis) in Aotearoa/New Zealand view these natural objects as persons in customary law. In granting the same natural objects personhood status under the general law, the general legal system can be seen as adopting or incorporating traditional legal principles from custom into the general legal system for the benefit of all peoples, including First Nations who have (and continue to be) marginalised under the general legal system.

The article goes on to consider whether the counter-wave could lead to similar legal developments occurring in Australia, Brazil and Canada, with promising signs in each of the respective jurisdictions.