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About us

Children’s Rights Research is an online platform that shares the work of a research collective working on children’s rights. While we work on a diversity of projects, what these have in common is that all projects aim to involve children themselves as much as possible and create social change by sharing the research findings with the relevant community.

The Children’s Rights Research Fund provides financial support for these projects. Currently our team is working on a four year project on the development rights of children living in unrecognised states (see the video). This project is co-funded between the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Children’s Rights Research Fund.

Mission

The Children’s Rights Research project aims to improve the living conditions of children anywhere in the world by studying the factors that lead to the protection and/or violation of their rights. While our different projects vary in methodology, our point of departure is to listen to children first.

Research team

Marieke Hopman

Marieke is the initiator of the Children’s Rights Research project. Her personal mission is to improve the lives of children by giving them a voice, and by understanding what can be better in their lives by carefully listening to all relevant actors (children, parents, teachers, politicians, etc.)

Fons Coomans

Fons holds the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Peace at the Department of International and European Law at the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University. Since 2019 he is the leader of the WOTRO-funded project on Development Rights of Children Living in Unrecognised States.

Amal de Chickera

Amal is a co-founder and co-director of the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. He has researched, advocated, written, spoken, delivered training and served as an expert on statelessness and related issues for the UN, NGOs and academia. Amal is particularly interested in the nexus between statelessness and discrimination and its implications on access to other rights.

Sangita Bajulaiye

Sangita is the Outreach and Advocacy Officer at the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion. She is responsible for coordinating​ the Human Rights Advocacy programme and is involved in establishing the Global Statelessness Movement. Sangita has previously worked at the Institute on various themes including childhood statelessness and deprivation of nationality.

Sarah McGibbon

Sarah is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of International and European Law at Maastricht University. Her research examines the international legal capacity and responsibility of non-state effective territorial entities. Sarah is a member of the WOTRO-funded project on Development Rights of Children Living in Unrecognised States​.

Billy Chia-Lung Tai 

Billy Chia-Lung is a PhD candidate at Monash University. His research focuses on human rights implementation in states not recognised by the United Nations. Additionally, he is an Independent Consultant focusing on Human Rights projects in South East Asia with specific expertise on modern Cambodia's socio-political structures and human rights situation.

Guleid Jama

Guleid is part of the research project Development Rights of Children Living in Unrecognised States as a PhD candidate researching children's rights in Somaliland at the Department of International and European Law at Faculty of Law of Maastricht University. He is the former chairperson of the Human Rights Center, a human rights watchdog organisation based in Somaliland.

Ahmed Qalinle

Ahmed, a Somaliland national, has joined Maastricht University’s invisible children project as a PhD researcher. Ahmed's research focuses on the relationship between social norms and children's development rights in Somaliland. Ahmed also works with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) as a Political Affairs Officer, based in Hargeisa.

Ramesh Ganohariti

Ramesh is a PhD researcher at the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University. His research focuses on the intersection between citizenship and contested statehood in post-Soviet de facto states. He holds an MSc in International Relations and Diplomacy, prior to which he graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Culture Studies. 

Blog & vlog contributers

Ambra Borne

Ambra completed a LLB in European Law from Maastricht University. She worked as a children’s rights researcher for the MaRBLe project The Child's Right to Nationality in an unrecognized state. Ambra is currently enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus NOHA Master’s degree in Humanitarian Action from University College Dublin and Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

Victoria van Heesewijk

Victoria grew up in Belgium and is a half-Dutch, half-Spanish European Law student doing a minor in Dutch law in order to get her civil effect. Next to her studies, she runs a blog with some friends which aims at explaining law-related topics to laymen, engages in climate activism and dances. Her academic interests lie in property law and European law.

Marie Vounelakos

Marie is a half-Austrian, half-Greek student of the Bachelor European Law at Maastricht University. Her interests lay in the fields of human rights and the law of armed conflict. She is supporting Marieke Hopman in her research on the child’s freedom of expression in Moroccan-Controlled Western Sahara.

Simona Urbaničová

Simona is a Slovak student in her third-year at the European Law School at Maastricht University. Since September, she has been working on the sub project which focuses on the interaction between the United Nations and unrecognised states as part of the MaRBLe project. Her academic interests lie in the fields of human rights as well as European Public law and governance. 

Emilia Klebanowski

Emilia is a final-year student at the European Law School. She is born in Germany. Emilia is part of the honours programme and works as a student tutor at the Law Faculty. Her academic interests lie in the field of international human rights law. In particular, she is interested in how to ensure the right to education for children of minorities.

Laura Zsarnai

Laura is from Hungary and is currently a third-year student of the Bachelor European Law School at Maastricht University. She participates in the Honours Programme, and is an intern at the private law research institute of the faculty. In the context of the MaRBLe project, she researched the notion of development rights of children under the supervision of Professor Fons Coomans.

Blánaid Sheeran

Blánaid is an Irish student in her third-year at the European Law School in Maastricht. She has been working on the sub project which focuses on children's right to live free from violence in the SADR since September as part of her university MaRBLe project. Blánaid plans to pursue a career in international human rights law.

Minka Halász

Minka is a final-year European Law student doing a minor in business law. She has been working with refugee kids for several years now and is particularly interested in family law and children's rights. She is currently an intern at the Hungarian UNICEF Committee, which she really enjoys.

Tajra Smajić

Tajra is a student of the Bachelor European Law at Maastricht University, coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her interests lay in the fields of Maritime Law and International law, with focus on Law of the Sea and Human Rights. Tajra is participating in the ELSA European Human Rights Moot Court. She also worked on a research project on the topic of development rights of children in unrecognized states.

Marius Ungureanu

Marius is a student from Republic of Moldova in his third-year of the European Law Bachelor at Maastricht University. His work relates to Transnistria, a self-proclaimed republic in the eastern part of Moldova. Through his research he is trying to determine in what ways the children living in that area are being denied the Right to Nationality and how it affects them. 

Florentina Pircher

Florentina worked as a researcher for the project on Development Rights of Children Living in Unrecognised States. She supported the Western Sahara case study, including by conducting field research alongside Marieke. She is pursuing an LLM at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, a joint centre of the University of Geneva and of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

Advisory committee

The advisory committee of the Children’s Rights Research Fund advises the University Fund Limburg Board regarding the allocation of funding.
They develop funding calls and select the best projects that are eligible for funding.

Fons Coomans

Fons holds the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Peace at the Department of International and European Law at the Faculty of Law, Maastricht University. Since 2019 he is the leader of the WOTRO-funded project on Development Rights of Children Living in Unrecognised States.

Rianne Letschert

Rianne obtained her PhD at Tilburg University with a thesis titled The impact of minority rights mechanisms, dealing with competing international organisations making policy and law on national minorities. In 2016, she was appointed Rector of Maastricht University. 

Christiane Verfuurden

Christiane is a lawyer, specialized in inheritance law and family law. She is an active member of the Association of Family- and Inheritance law Lawyers & Divorce Mediators (vFAS). 

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