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Name: Jeannette Rodgers

PhD: International Development / Law

Thesis Title (provisional): Lost in Transition: making the case for meaningful child participation in transitional justice.

Thesis Description:

The thesis seeks to make the case for how, and why, the participation of children should be an integral part of the mandates of transitional justice mechanisms. Numerous studies have shown that children have a strong desire to be heard in the processes of transitional justice; despite this, policy and practice has failed to engage consistently with contributions from children under the age of 18, seemingly at odds with the significance of their participation rights as set out in international law, chiefly through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The thesis seeks to understand how, and why, a case for the meaningful participation of children should be built on the aforementioned participation rights of the child, looking in depth at those ‘participation rights’ of children set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These rights include, but are not limited to, the following:

Article 12: The right to be heard

Article 13: Freedom of Expression

Article 14: Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion

Article 15: Freedom of Association

Article 16:  Right to Privacy

Article 17:  Access to Information/Mass Media

The thesis will also review current theoretical models of participation, considering how they align with the premise of those participation rights of the UNCRC (particularly Article 12) and assumptions (if any) about the lived participation experiences of children in transitional contexts. As part of this, I am planning to look in depth at the participation model developed by Professor Laura Lundy and to apply this model in two transitional justice mechanisms, within one case study country context. The model has, to my knowledge, not been used in a transitional justice context; I am planning to use the model through applied research directly in the field (further explained in the methodology section). I am hoping to gain an understanding, through the model, as to exactly how children (defined in the UNCRC as those under the age of 18) view participation in i.) memorialisation efforts and ii.) the gacaca court system, and from this move on to discuss what they would like to see improved (if anything) to facilitate meaningful participation. This will lead either to a new model of participation specifically for children in transitional justice, or it will suggest that international law should embrace the lessons offered by the two mechanisms when thinking about how best to engage with the meaningful participation of children, with the aid of this well-established model. I argue that a model of meaningful child participation in transitional justice should be rooted in the participation experiences of the everyday lives of children to ensure their voices are heard, particularly regarding what ‘meaningful’ participation really entails for them.

The thesis will be specifically looking at those transitional justice mechanisms under the umbrella of ‘memorialisation efforts,’ specifically at the state level. It will also be looking at the (now defunct) gacaca court system, as a separate mechanism of transitional justice in Rwanda, specifically how child participation was (or was not) an integral part of the framework and outcomes. Comparisons will be made of similarities or differences in modes of participation, both in perception and reality. IRDP to engage directly with questions of child participation. Broad areas of research question focus will include (but are not limited to) (i)interviewing these group members about their experiences of TJ participation as children, (ii) gathering data about the views of child participation in recent TJ mechanisms including gacaca and in memorialisation, (iii) holding focus groups with under 18s, allowing some consideration of intergenerational differences in their views of what child participation has looked like and what it should look like. I also want to explore options for undertaking focus groups in schools in order to explore how far and in what ways current children are able to give effect to their participation rights through TJ and memorialisation.

This project has an embedded interdisciplinary approach, rooted in both international development and international (child rights) law. The thesis seeks to convey how a case for the meaningful participation of children in transitional justice can be built on the foundation of participation rights, and how to ascertain and respond to the local realities of children; issues which cut across both development and law.


The central research question is asking the following:

How can – and why should – meaningful child participation be facilitated in transitional justice?

From this standpoint, the following sub-questions are examined:

1.      How have transitional justice mechanisms specifically included the participation of children, and what lessons can be learned from this when considering the potential of the meaningful participation of children in transitional justice of the future?

2.      How can a focus on ‘participation rights’ and a specific ‘model of child participation’ for use in transitional justice contribute to this discussion? 

3.      How does the way participation is understood and practiced by children make the case for why children should meaningfully participate in transitional justice?

 

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 Derby

 

Research Affiliation: Dr. Eric Ndushabandi, Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Kigali, Rwanda


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

2018

Midlands 3 Cities Research Festival, 24th May 2018

Presentation (poster) of CDF project 'Child Rights Week 2018: The Right to Shelter' 

University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference, 13th June 2018

Presentation (poster) of PhD thesis: 'From Powerless to Empowered: the voice of the child in the mechanisms of transitional justice.'

 

2019

AHRC institutional visit to University of Birmingham, 24 January 2019.

Presented my research (by way of a research poster) to Professor Edward Harcourt, AHRC Director of Research, and Strategy and Innovation and Professor Roey Sweet, AHRC Director of Partnerships and Engagement

On invitation from Professor Michaela Mahlberg, the College of Arts and Law Director of Research

'Contesting Injustice: People’s mobilisation from below'; Midlands African Studies Hub (MASH) Conference, January 30th 2019, University of Coventry

Held at the Research Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations

Stream 2:  Sustaining progress: How can we effectively build upon peace and people’s mobilisation?

Presentation of my thesis 'Lost in Transition: Making the case for child participation in transitional justice.'

International Development Colloquium, 07 March 2019,
University of Birmingham

Presentation of my thesis 'Lost in Transition: Making the case for child participation in transitional justice.'

Human Rights Research Students Conference, 16 May 2019
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), University of London

Presentation of my thesis 'Lost in Transition: Making the case for child participation in transitional justice.'

GRP ID Annual Postgraduate Conference, 13th June 2019,
University of Warwick

Theme: The Politics of Hope - Reviving the Dream of Democracy and Development

Presentation of my thesis ‘Lost in Transition: Making the case for child participation in transitional justice.’

Research Poster Conference, 19th June 2019,
University of Birmingham

Presentation of my thesis in the form of a research poster

General Conference, European Consortium of Political Research, 4-7 September 2019
University of Wroclaw, Poland

Presentation of a paper: 'Lost in Translation: the interdisciplinarity of transitional justice through the lens of child participation.'


Publications

Law and Development Encyclopedia - entry on "Transitional Justice" (in progress)

Published by the Law and Development Research Network (LDRN)


Awards

2018

University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference, 13th June 2018

Awarded Best Poster for College of Social Sciences. 

2019

Midlands 4 Cities Research Festival

Awarded the AHRC/Midlands 4 Cities Cultural Engagement Award 2019

 

Groups and Affiliations:

  1. Academic

Postgraduate Research Director, ‘Children and Childhoods’ Network of the University of Birmingham 

Assistant Editor, International Journal of Human Rights

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

Member of the African Studies Association.

Member of the Development Studies Association

Member of the Political Studies Association

Member of the British International Studies Association

Member of the Social Research Association

      2. Academic (other) 

Affiliated with the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Kigali, Rwanda.

      3. External

UNICEF Children's Champion

Birmingham City Council UNICEF Steering Group member

 

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

"Child Rights Week - The Right to Play" & "Children, Rights and Childhood Conference 2019

“Child Rights Week”/"Child Rights Fortnight" at Selly Oak Nursery School and Moseley Church of England Primary School in Birmingham from 11th - 22nd March 2019

One week of activities based on the ‘right to play' 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, The Big Happiness Experiment, Flying Seagulls Project, Birmingham City Council and Midlands 3 Cities students to teach the children at Selly Oak Nursery School and Moseley Church of England Primary School about the ‘right to play.'

Children, Rights and Childhood Conference 2019”  [date TBC]Conference devised alongside PGR Directors and PGRs of the Children and Childhood Network (CCN) of the University of Birmingham

Speakers to include PGRs who are working on any aspect of children and 'play,' as well as invited guest speakers and an exhibition showcasing the work of nursery and primary schools across the city on the 'right to play.'

Agenda to be confirmed in mid-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


School/Departmentally Funded

Fieldwork Support Group 

Funded by the School of Government and Society at the University of Birmingham/Dr. Emma Foster;

Set up in response to numerous articles and studies about mental health and PGR students in relation to returning from fieldwork and the capability of university mental health services in providing counselling or similar therapies for PGR experiences of this nature;

Mandate is to provide a safe space for groups of PGRs to share their fieldwork stories whilst engaging in a crafting activity, but also a way to turn some hard hitting experiences they may have learned about into a way of engaging in activism and change, honouring the experiences they had in the field and stories they have been told;

Will be holding a funded workshop in conjunction with Stitched Voices on the 20th June 2019;

15 places for PGR students who have conducted fieldwork at any stage of their PhD’s from IDD and POLSIS;

An exhibition of the work of the group is currently being planned for 2020.


Education:

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

Graduate Diploma in Law, University of Law (Birmingham Campus)

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: jfr584@student.bham.ac.uk

Twitter: @jfrodgers81

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