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Name: Jeannette Rodgers

PhD: International Development / Law

Thesis Title (provisional): From powerless to empowered: giving voice to the ‘voiceless child’ through the mechanisms of transitional justice.

Thesis Description:

My project will focus on how the differing wartime experiences of children affect the case for their inclusion in transitional justice, and the potential for the mechanisms of transitional justice to give children a safe space to share their experiences of conflict. Through the interweaving of a ‘golden thread’ by way of international child rights, specifically the “right to be heard” (as presented in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), exploration of creative ways to enable [child] participation in the transitional justice process will be explored, with particular reference to work previously undertaken by transitional justice mechanisms and evidence conducted through fieldwork in the two focus countries.

My research question is as follows: 

How can – and why should - meaningful child participation in transitional justice be facilitated in post-conflict environments?

Sub-questions explore this overarching aim of the thesis through the lenses of international development and international law, namely:

Development/social legacy of conflict: What can we learn from the intergenerational effects of conflict on children to inform future practice in transitional justice?

Law/participation rights: How can a focus on ‘participation rights’ enable the child’s right to be heard in transitional justice mechanisms?

The lens through which the work will be presented is through the experience, testimony and documented evidence of ‘ex-children’ (those adults who, as children, grew up in the shadow of protracted conflict and the transition period that followed). In making the choice to focus on ‘ex-children’ of conflict rather than focusing on children of the present, the study hopes to learn lessons from their experiences of the past in order to give a stronger justification for why all children (defined under international law as any human being below the age of 18) should be included in the mandates of transitional justice mechanisms in the future. In short, how do the experiences of ‘ex-children’ of conflict, as ‘children of the past,’ make the case for the participation of ‘children of the present’ in transitional justice?

The project will do so by looking at two countries with a history of protracted conflict, in order to ask new questions about the way children and youth were affected and involved in the violations. Looking at the issue of child participation in transitional justice through the lens of ex-children of conflict will bring to the discussion a “previously overlooked category of stakeholder” – one that not only lays the foundation for future work with present-day children, but also has an important set of experiences of both conflict and transitional justice that are equally important in the narrative of international child rights, transitional justice and international development. To not address this group of ex-children would mean missing key opportunities to address the legacies of conflict on children of the present, and access to transitional justice mechanisms by children of the future.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Danielle Beswick, International Development, University of Birmingham

Co-Supervisor: Professor Aoife Nolan, Law, University of Nottingham

Mentor: Dr. Hakeem Yusuf, Law, University of Birmingham

Funded Activities and Projects:

CDF Funded 

  1. Lead Applicant role

"Child Rights Week - The Right to Shelter" & "Children, Rights and Childhood: Expo and Launch 2018"

  • Project promoted at the Midlands 3 Cities Research Festival on 24th May 2018
  • “Child Rights Week” at Selly Oak Nursery School in Birmingham from 18th – 22nd June 2018
  • One week of activities based on the ‘right to shelter’ as part of work towards the Rights Respecting Schools Award devised by UNICEF
  • Special visits, workshops and activities given by UNICEF UK, The Teddy Trust, Annamation Storytellers, Birmingham City Council and Midlands 3 Cities students to teach the children at Selly Oak Nursery School about the ‘right to shelter’
  • ‘Children Rights and Childhood: Expo and Launch 2018” as culminating event of Child Rights Week on the evening of 22nd June 2018 at the Birmingham REP Theatre
  • Invited attendees included teachers and governors of nursery and primary schools as well as representatives from Birmingham City Council, UNICEF, The Teddy Trust and Midlands 3 Cities staff and researchers.
  • Panel presentations from key stakeholders to the Child Rights Week as well as selected organisations that specifically work within the mandate of the ‘right to shelter’
  • Included a ‘speed networking’ series of workshops and a ‘networking hour’ for all attendees
  • Included a poster exhibition from current research students across the M3C institutions
  • Intended to promote collaboration between local schools to encourage them to work together on larger Child Rights Week projects in future
  • Introduction of the Interdisciplinary Study of Children, Rights and Childhood Conference in the Summer of 2019

2. Contributor role

Travelling exhibition curated by Amy Williams alongside World Jewish Relief: 'Responding to the Present by Remembering the Past.'

A written contribution towards the exhibition section on Rwanda

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:


Presentation (poster) of CDF project 'Child Rights Week 2018: The Right to Shelter' at the Midlands 3 Cities Research Festival, 24th May 2018

Presentation (poster) of PhD project at the University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference, 13th June 2018

·         Award: College of Social Sciences WINNER  


Groups and Affiliations:

Member of the ‘Children and Childhoods’ Network of the University of Birmingham - academics, researchers and PhD students researching in the ‘children’ and ‘childhood’ spaces exploring the possibilities for collaboration and impact across the university and beyond.

Member of the 'Midlands African Studies Hub' (M.A.S.H) within the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham.

Student member of the African Studies Association.

Student member of the Development Studies Association

UNICEF Children's Champion


LLM International Law: Crime, Justice and Human Rights (with Distinction), University of Birmingham

  • Awarded the highest mark given to any undergraduate or LLM student cohort for the 2015/2016 academic year for an assignment on international human rights, economic rights and transitional justice. In the process of editing for publication.
  • ‘Parallel intentions, contemporary disparities: the prohibition of the use of force in conventional and customary international law.’ B.S.L. Rev. 2016, 1(1), 22-33. Compares the regulation of the prohibition of the use of force under the United Nations Charter 1945 arts 2(4) and 51 with the rules of customary international law. Examines the exceptions provided by art.51. Reviews the contemporary debates on the scope of the prohibition.
  •  LLM Academic Research Assistant to Dr. Steven Vaughan of the Birmingham Law School

BMus Music (2:1), University of London (Royal Holloway)

Other Research Interests:

  • International Human Rights Law
  • Children’s Rights – protection, advocacy, education; nationally, internationally and globally, but particularly in post-conflict situations
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, its Additional Protocols and related UN official documents
  • Special Protection of children in International Humanitarian Law and the work of the ICRC
  • Transitional Justice – the potential for child participation, truth telling and social change
  • The links between child rights, human development and international law
  • The role of music in creating safe-spaces for children to relay their experiences of conflict, and its consequent role in peace-making and reconciliation
  • Music in social protest and activism, particularly for young people
  • ‘Art-as-storytelling’ for children to document experiences of war and combat trauma



University email address:

Twitter: @jfrodgers81

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