The challenges for children's rights in international child protection: Opportunities for transformation

Tara M. Collins*, Laura H.V. Wright

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children's rights highlight the priority of child protection internationally and require us to think about how protection is defined and conceptualised, whether protection efforts are working, and how we are carrying them out. Many scholars have noted the apparent conflict between the idea of children's rights as universal and the particular realities of local contexts, understandings, and experiences. Some argue that the failures of child protection are due to the structure of the children's rights framework itself. However, we contend that the issues lie in traditional child protection systems and frameworks, and how children's rights are (or are not) understood and operationalised by child protection actors. Relying on a narrative literature review, this conceptual paper presents several examples in support of this view, and argues that more work needs to be done to contextualize and secure the rights of children in need of protection. We explore the complex interplay between local and global interpretations of rights and recommend that dialogue among actors with different perspectives and socio-cultural experiences of children's rights will produce richer understandings and practices of them. This dialogue can support the transformation of the current international child protection system to support the ability of children, their families and caregivers to realise children's rights and support their thriving.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106032
JournalWorld Development
Early online date23 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • child and youth participation
  • children's rights
  • international child protection
  • safeguarding


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