Law of Peace(making) and Children's Right to have Rights

Working Paper, December 2017

Sarah M. Field

International law’s affirmation of a right to have rights, as crystallised by Hannah Arendt, came into being through international peacemaking processes. The deprivation of this fundamental right continues to typify the emergent context that brings peace processes into being, and for some cohorts of the people, namely children, the process itself. As argued in a related probe, the extremity of children’s invisibility in peacemaking, may be viewed as expressive of the deprivation of that right and also the vulnerability creating effects of ‘unqualified, mere existence in the public sphere’. The right is intuitively coherent yet also enigmatic. What is its content and scope? What rights are expressive of this right? And why is it — above for example more corporeal rights —  so fundamental? The aim of the paper is to distill and clarify children’s right to have rights in the context of peacemaking. In doing so it reflects on these questions, and concludes by offering a two step process for giving effect to children’s rights in the successive processes that constitute peacemaking.

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