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Alistair MacDonald, Barrister, St Philips Chambers, Birmingham
It is now widely accepted that children benefit from certain fundamental rights carrying the force of international law. However, in respect of the one international legal instrument dedicated solely to enshrining those rights, namely the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), there remains a stubborn distinction in practice between the acceptance of children's rights and the procedural capacity for children to enforce those rights.
To be of real value to children, the rights articulated by the UNCRC must, in concert with domestic legal provisions and procedure, be capable of practical application and enforcement, in order to ensure both the continued integrity of those rights and to achieve proper redress on those occasions when they are breached. As Fortin observes however, this leap from the theoretical to the practical presents considerable difficulties within a domestic legal system that has yet to develop a comprehensive rights based-framework for children (J Fortin, Children's Rights and the Developing Law (Cambridge, 2nd edn, 2005).
To read the rest of this article, see November  Family Law journal.
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