Research team

Law and Development

Expertise

Wouter Vandenhole is a human rights and law-and-development scholar. His research interests include children's rights, human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights, and the relationship between human rights law and development. For some years now, he has focused on transnational human rights obligations, i.e. the human rights obligations of new duty-bearers, and in particular on companies. More recently, he started to explore the conceptual implications of sustainable development for human rights law, and in particular the question of distribution.

Future-proofing human rights. Towards a thicker understanding of accountability. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Human rights are increasingly described as in crisis. One reason for this is that current accountability mechanisms cannot adequately deal with intricate and multilayered human rights violations that occur in rapidly changing and vastly complex social contexts. Thus, if human rights are to continue to offer a widely accepted framework for thinking about (social) justice, we urgently need to reconstruct the very notion of accountability on which it is pinned, so that better protection is offered. This project revisits the questions of what counts as a human rights violation, who holds human rights duties and how to actually deliver human rights accountability, in the context of pressing and complex challenges. Harnessing the legal, sociological, anthropological and criminological expertise of the consortium's members, it finds resources and strategies for thicker human rights accountability within human rights law, from other domains of law, and beyond the legal realm. The identification of a variety of avenues for achieving better human rights protection will provide the basis for a thicker conceptualization of the notion of (human rights) accountability.

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Intercountry adoptions 05/05/2020 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Intercountry adoptions in Flanders do not always happen correctly. The Flemish government established an expert panel in July 2019 in order to scrutinize intercountry adoptions in the past. The panel has been asked to issue recommendations to ensure that intercountry adoptions in the future will be conducted properly.

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Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations in Practice 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Human rights have traditionally been framed in a vertical perspective (state-individual), with the duties of states confined to individuals on their territory. Obligations beyond this 'territorial space' have been viewed as either non-existent or at best, minimalistic. This territorial paradigm is seriously challenged nowadays. The Scientific Research Network seeks to achieve the following three scientific targets with specific focus on state practice: 1. SYSTEMATIZE To take stock of progress made over the last decade, since the adoption in 2011 of the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in applying the principles, and propose ways forward; we have identified five thematic clusters in which extraterritorial human rights obligations have become most pertinent: development cooperation; environment; investment, finance and trade; migration; and peace and security, and along which the WOG will be organized. Legal developments on these five thematic clusters will be studied from the perspective of four human rights governance systems: the United Nations and the three regional human rights governance systems (the African Union; the Council of Europe; and the Organization of American States). 2. DEEPEN To take stock of conceptual progress and propose ways forward, drawing on the work undertaken in the framework of GLOTHRO, a European Research Networking Programme on extraterritorial human rights obligations (2010-2015). There are two key doctrinal puzzles that need to be examined: the jurisdictional hooks to assign extraterritorial obligations to states, and the question which principles may guide the distribution of obligations among states (and responsibility for violations). 3. BROADEN To ensure cross-pollination with other disciplines and civil society work in the area of extraterritorial obligations: on the one hand, we want to learn empirically from civil society work through concrete cases they are involved in or aware of, including through strategic litigation, and to deepen the interdisciplinary dialogue on ETOs. On the other hand, we want to share with civil society and other disciplines our thematic and conceptual findings (see scientific targets 1. and 2.) in order to have them tested and refined. Through multidisciplinary co-creation of knowledge, we want to expand the knowledge base on ETOs.

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A human rights based approach to health challenges associated with child marriages in Tanzania. 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

This project aims at reducing child marriage rates and its associated health challenges in Tanzania by using a human rights based approach (HRBA) with a 3-tier capacity-building approach. The first tier is capacity-building for the staff of Mzumbe University (MU) Faculty of Law (FOL) to engage in empirical socio-legal research to better understand dynamics in relation to the health challenges associated with child marriages in Tanzania. The empirical findings gathered by FOL, MU will set the ground for the second tier of the project. The findings will be used to design a training programme based on a HRBA to train social workers in the selected Dodoma region and other regions through a mobile application. In the third tier, the mobile application will be developed and used to equip social workers to become translators of international human rights standards by applying a HRBA in their interventions to deal with health challenges associated with child marriages which will contribute to the reduction of child marriages and its associated health challenges.

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Including children for a better and more child-friendly case-handling, procedure and enforcement of decision in cross-border family disputes (INCLUDE). 01/09/2019 - 31/08/2021

Abstract

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention has a limited but essential goal: assure the prompt return of children who are unlawfully taken to or retained in another member state. The Brussels IIa revision, currently under revision, complements this instrument. The European Commission and the European Parliament pleaded for a stronger focus on mediation and a better protection of the best interests of the child. This seems to be of vital importance. Recent research revealed that children feel frustrated about the lack of clear communication and a limited understanding of the situation. Additionally, children had the feeling that their opinion was not taken into account, even when they did have the opportunity to be heard. An undesired outcome for the child leads to feelings of desperation and anxiety. With regard to enforcement, a significant negative effect of the arrest of the abducting parent is perceived on the wellbeing of the child. Children who did not get the chance to say goodbye to their family and friends, alsoshowed a lower wellbeing. On the other hand, children who receive psychological assistance upon return, show a significantly better wellbeing as compared to children who did not receive such assistance. This research project aims to discuss with youngsters the most appropriate way to deal with child abduction cases (both at the level of the procedure and at the level of the enforcement of the judgments). The University of Antwerp team will provide the literature study, while the other partners will hold workshops with children to discuss children's rights and the procedures. The University of Antwerp team will use the results to write a good practice guide for professionals. the aim is to ensure a child-friendly approach to the problem.

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The legal status and protection of unborn human life: an approach from the perspective of human dignity. 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Current Belgian law regarding unborn human life lacks clarity, and is inconsistent and incoherent. The few relevant legal provisions are compartmentalised in different instruments and legal domains, and available case law is quite divergent. That piecemeal approach leads to legal uncertainty. The same is true on the international level, in human rights instruments and case law. Hence, the purpose of this project is to develop a coherent and consistent approach towards unborn human life in Belgian law. It is hypothesized that the concept of human dignity can fulfill a key function, when formulated as an operational principle on the basis of which the law on unborn human life can be reformulated. This function is already hinted at in international instruments and case law, with regard to entities to which human rights protection is not (yet) applicable as such. With a view to further operationalization, the current Belgian framework, including international and European law (descriptive part) will be evaluated through functional comparison with the French, Dutch, and federal German and United States jurisdictions (evaluative part). Ultimately, the principle of human dignity and the results of the comparative research will be used to propose and elaborate a coherent and consistent approach to unborn human life in Belgian law (normative part).

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BECAREFUL: BEst interests interpretation in Child Abduction cases: an exploration into REsolving Fragmentation Under different international Legal regimes. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

According to children's rights law, as a subsection of human rights law, the best interests of the individual child must be a paramount consideration in all matters involving a child. According to private international law, when a parent wrongfully takes a child from one country to another, the general approach to the best interests of the child is that that child must be speedily taken back (unless exceptional circumstances can be proved). The individual versus general approach to the best interests of the child has caused debate among scholars and confusion among judges and civil servants. The question arises how these two international legal frameworks (in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) interact and should interact with each other. This question is not limited to the issue of international child abduction. The difficult interaction, sometimes even conflict, between international legal regimes is a known problem. It can be addressed by seeking a hierarchy between the legal regimes, i.e. that human rights law must prevail over other areas of law or that human rights law must be seen as supportive rather than dominant. However, the hypothesis of this research is that reconciliation should be sought rather than hierarchy. The research envisaged by BECAREFUL will focus on seeking such reconciliation in the issue area of international child abduction. The researcher will investigate case law of two supranational courts, representing the different fields of law (the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU) as well as national courts of six countries. The investigation will seek to establish how these courts combine the strict return rules of the Hague Convention with the best interests of the individual child as formulated by the Children's Rights Convention. This will be done through content analysis with the aid of NVIVO software. The outcome of the research will be used to draw conclusions not only for the issue area but also for the bigger debate of the interaction between international legal frameworks.

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Human rights accountability implications of mobilizing private actors for public objectives: a study of multi-stakeholder partnerships in education in the post-2015 development era. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

The research seeks to explore the human rights accountability implications of mobilizing private actors in the post-2015 development era by inspecting multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) in education. Private actors are increasingly infused into global policy-making and implementation as a proposed panacea to governance gaps through hybrid public-private engagements. In this vein, being formalized and supported under the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, MSPs have now become ubiquitous in the governance of sustainable development. While MSPs manage substantial financial resources and operate in ways that affect the lives of a great number of people, they lack a clear legal status, mandate and duties under international law, giving rise to accountability challenges. In domains that are both public goods and human rights such as education the involvement of private actors has previously paved the way for the commercialization and corporate capture of agendas, exacerbating accountability challenges. This research seeks to overcome the paucity of critical legal reflection seeking to evaluate and address the human rights accountability challenges posed by the policy-driven mobilization of private actors in MSPs in achieving public objectives such as the delivery of quality education. To this end, the project will employ empirical research methods using quantitative and qualitative analysis as well as key informant interviews.

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Sustainable Developmont and Global Justice (SUSTJUCTICE). 10/02/2020 - 30/04/2020

Abstract

There is an acknowledgement in law and development studies that institutions, including law, matter for development. There is 'a massive surge in development assistance for institutional reform projects'. Lawyers, 'who often conceive of themselves as institutional designers', hence become important actors in development (Trebilcock and Mota Prado 2014: 27-31). However, lawyers have often been given a rather technical training, and are often not able to understand and oversee the broader implications of legal engineering for questions of sustainable development and global justice. The ITP Sustainable Development and Global Justice (SUSTJUSTICE) aims to offer a comprehensive teaching programme based on the research lines of the University of Antwerp Law and Development Research Group (LDRG). It responds to the demonstrated interest and need of participants from the South in comprehensive and focused training on the role of law in pursuing sustainable development and global justice in a development context.

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Project website

Sustainable development and human rights law (SUSTLAW). 11/02/2019 - 03/05/2019

Abstract

The relationship between law and development continues to be a key issue of debate both in academia and policy circles. The concept of Law and Development is not one-dimensional and has been closely linked with the reality of poverty and unsatisfied basic needs. Although this field focused initially on the economic dimension, as development was mostly seen as a consequence of (if not synonymous to) economic growth, the human and cultural dimensions of development are currently also a central part of the legal analysis. The concept of sustainable development and the rights-based approach to development are now part of the core content of the law and development field. Sustainable Development is a complex concept, which refers to the following topics: environmental protection, respect for socio-cultural contexts, empowerment of the poor, and inter-generational and intra-generational justice (Blewitt 2008:4). Sustainable Development is also connected with global justice because its core concern is the poor and the negative impact of globalization on the poor, including intertemporal impacts (Blewitt 2008:5; Cullet 2010:357; see also Pahuja 2011, 2013). The ITP Sustainable Development & Human Rights Law provides key conceptual and analytical tools to gain in depth knowledge of and critically assess the interplay between law and development. The module offers high quality teaching and learning in a dynamic environment, paying attention to South-North as well as the South-South interactions. In this respect, development is not conceived in unidirectional terms (from North to South) but as a process characterised by complex social, political and economic interactions across the globe where Southern actors play and ought to play roles as important as Northern ones. Key themes explored include not only human rights implementation and development cooperation but also standard-setting on human rights and sustainable development for the future. The ITP purports to overcome the lack of critical reflection on what human rights and sustainable development mean in a development cooperation context and further enrich legal thinking with interdisciplinary insights. At the same time, it offers hands-on training to turn analysis into practice.

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Project website

Francqui Chair 2018-2019 Dr Margot E. Salomon. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

For the Belgian Francqui Chair, the Francqui Foundation invites every year Belgian or European scholars to stay with Belgian universities, in order to organize a teaching program and to participate in the academic life of the institution. In this way, the Francqui Foundation encourages exchanges between Belgian and European universities. The Master of Laws program (LL.M) at the Faculty of Law of the University of Antwerp proposed Dr Margot E. Salomon as a holder of this year's Belgian (European) Francqui Chair. Dr Salomon is an established scholar with an international reputation. She has published in leading journals (e.g. European Law Journal, Human Rights Quarterly) and at leading publishing houses (Oxford University Press). Her multidisciplinary research covers the broad domain of global economic justice. She examines with a critical eye the contribution and limitations of law in the context of economic globalization.

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Development of a toolkit related to business and human rights 13/03/2018 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

The main framework for this project are the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights, particularly the second pillar regarding how human rights duties are integrated into the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). More specifically, this project considers the framework provided by the National Action Plan (NAP) recently approved in Belgium, provided that the toolbox is the first action point of this NAP. The toolbox will be designed for corporations (and their partners) and other organisations with activities in the jurisdiction of Belgium. The toolbox will provide complete, schematic and clear information regarding human rights duties of non-state actors (corporations and other organisations) in the framework of their activities, but also how they can comply with these duties, and if any human rights violation is caused, how they can provide for remedies or redress to the victims. Some of the tools to be included are: a. Human Rights Due Diligence and related human rights impact assessment within the organisation but also in relation to their partners (belonging to the global value chain). b. A system of operational complaints to be provided by non-state actors when an abuse has been caused, in order to offer effective redress or just compensation to victims. c. A check-list on human rights compliance.

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Sustainable development and human rights law (SUSTLAW). 12/02/2018 - 04/05/2018

Abstract

The relationship between law and development continues to be a key issue of debate both in academia and policy circles. The concept of Law and Development is not one-dimensional and has been closely linked with the reality of poverty and unsatisfied basic needs. Although this field focused initially on the economic dimension, as development was mostly seen as a consequence of (if not synonymous to) economic growth, the human and cultural dimensions of development are currently also a central part of the legal analysis. The concept of sustainable development and the rights-based approach to development are now part of the core content of the law and development field. Sustainable Development is a complex concept, which refers to the following topics: environmental protection, respect for socio-cultural contexts, empowerment of the poor, and inter-generational and intra-generational justice (Blewitt 2008:4). Sustainable Development is also connected with global justice because its core concern is the poor and the negative impact of globalization on the poor, including intertemporal impacts (Blewitt 2008:5; Cullet 2010:357; see also Pahuja 2011, 2013). The ITP Sustainable Development & Human Rights Law provides key conceptual and analytical tools to gain in depth knowledge of and critically assess the interplay between law and development. The module offers high quality teaching and learning in a dynamic environment, paying attention to South-North as well as the South-South interactions. In this respect, development is not conceived in unidirectional terms (from North to South) but as a process characterised by complex social, political and economic interactions across the globe where Southern actors play and ought to play roles as important as Northern ones. Key themes explored include not only human rights implementation and development cooperation but also standard-setting on human rights and sustainable development for the future. The ITP purports to overcome the lack of critical reflection on what human rights and sustainable development mean in a development cooperation context and further enrich legal thinking with interdisciplinary insights. At the same time, it offers hands-on training to turn analysis into practice.

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Project website

Sabbatical - Wouter Vandenhole 01/02/2018 - 31/08/2018

Abstract

Sustainable development in no-growth economies: socio-economic human rights revisited (SUSTRIGHTS) - No-growth, be it cyclical (resulting from financial and/or economic crises) or structural (related to sustainable development), necessitates a paradigmatic shift in the understanding of socio-economic human rights and in the role assigned to human rights in development (cooperation). This project researches how to factor in the consequences of no-growth economics in the conceptual analysis of socio-economic human rights, both in the context of a domestic legal order and in global development (cooperation).

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'God in school? A legal inquiry into the right to reasonable accommodation of religion and belief in educational institutions.' 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

The research aims at answering the central research question whether a right to reasonable accommodation of religion and belief should be recognized in the Flemish educational context. This question will be guided by two sub-questions. 1. Which principles can constitute the normative basis of the legal concept of reasonable accommodation of religious diversity in educational institutions? 2. Which difficulties may reasonable accommodation of religious diversity pose in the educational setting and how can they be addressed?

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The Voice Of the Child in international child abductions in Europe (VOICE). 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2019

Abstract

General objective: assuring a child-friendly opportunity for children to be heard in cases of international child abductions and cross-border family conflict. The project examines case law of Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, as well as of the Euroepan Court of Human Rights and the european Court of Justice.

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State-based judicial remedies for corporate human rights responsiblity 01/07/2016 - 30/06/2017

Abstract

The project looks into state-based judicial mechanisms and state-based non-judicial grievance mechanisms with regard to human rights violations by business, with special emphasis on the barriers to access to remedy measures. It consists of three parts. First, a mapping is undertaken of the procedural and material aspects of available judicial and non-judicial mechanisms in Belgium. Second, a flyer will be designed which will include the main findings of the first part. This flyer will be accessible to all stakeholders (affected persons or groups, enterprises, NGOs, trade unions, etc.) and will provide clear, quick and concrete information concerning (i) the state mechanisms at the three levels that can be used to obtain remedy or to enforce rights affected by business activities; (ii) the duties of the stakeholders; and (iii) the available mechanisms for their enforcement and compliance. And third, recommendations will be formulated on legal and political measures to remove actual or potential barriers to the access to remedy. The third part will therefore map obstacles (limitations or gaps at different levels such as legal, financial, administrative or procedural difficulties) related to each of the mechanisms mapped in the first part and that may obstruct or complicate the effective use of these ways of remedy.

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Sustainable development and human rights law (SUSTLAW). 11/04/2016 - 10/06/2016

Abstract

The ITP Sustainable Development and Human Rights Law (SUSTLAW) aims to offer a comprehensive teaching programme based on the research lines of the University of Antwerp Law and Development Research Group. The ITP SUSTLAW examines what the potential and limits are of the law in realising human rights and sustainable development in a globalized world. It does so by providing key conceptual and analytical tools to gain in depth knowledge of and critically assess the interplay between law and development. The ITP aims to contribute to a level playing field in the North/South debates on global legal reform in the area of sustainable development and human rights. Increasingly, global debates focus on human rights and sustainable development as two key principles underpinning any development cooperation. Against this background, the ITP is designed to give participants the necessary background and tools in critically appraising the two principles of human rights and sustainable development in legal and policy-oriented debates as well as to assess attitudes to sustainable development and human rights in different geographical contexts. The ITP also envisages the development of writing, presentation and argument skills of the participants to assist them in their career development. In addition, the programme is expected to equip participants from the Global South with the requisite knowledge on political and legal processes underpinning policy in the area of sustainable development for turning the commitment of Northern 'development partners' into reality. This will be achieved not only through interactive teaching but also through networking opportunities with experts from the North, both researchers and practitioners in the field.

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Project website

Ensuring the well-being of children in judicial cooperation in cases of international child abduction. 01/01/2016 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

In this project, quantitative data will be collected among parents of a child that was internationally abducted. This quantitative data collection is financed by the European Commission and consists of a collaboration between Child Focus (Belgium), the Dutch Centrum Internationale Kinderontvoering (Centrum IKO, the Netherlands), and the Centre Français de Protection de l'Enfance - Enfants Disparus (CFPE, France), Missing Children Europe (MCE, the European umbrella organization for missing children) and the University of Antwerp. Data will be collected in the period September-October 2016 and form a population-based source of information on socio-demographic, individual, familial and social characteristics of abducting and left-behind parents and their children. Furthermore, qualitative interviews will be conducted among adolescents that were abducted.

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Human Rights for Development (HR4DEV). 16/08/2015 - 12/09/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Literature review of options for international financing mechanisms for social protection 04/05/2015 - 27/06/2015

Abstract

Since the ILO recommendation on the Social Protection Floor 2012, social protection is again higher on the international agenda. Financing for social protection will have to be primarily generated at the national level. Nonetheless, and for sure in the poorest countries, international support will be necessary in order to offer social protection to all. This project seeks to 1. map current and proposed mechanismss for international financing of social protection; 2. enrich the discussion; and 3. influence the position of the joint campaign on social protection. This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Innovationplatform for Business and Human Rights. 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

In June 2011, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council 'endorsed' the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The UNGPs have attracted considerable academic interest, yet research has tended to travel along distinct tracks addressing the topic from either a human rights law or management perspective. The purpose of this Network is to promote collaboration between scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to identify and examine the conceptual, practical and normative issues that arise in the application and concretization of the UNGPs. The focus of the network will be on bringing insights from law and management together to build upon the UNGPs, to facilitate common understandings of concepts and to ensure that the concepts are readily applicable in both the law and management context. The network will promote the exchange of ideas, sharing of information and collaboration on business and human rights in four different research domains: international public and private law, management, philosophy/business ethics, corporate governance. The aim is to foster mutual understandings, identify knowledge gaps, spur innovative research in these areas and further devise conceptual anchors on which future interdisciplinary academic research can built. This is a fundamental research project financed by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). The project was subsidized after selection by the FWO-expert panel.

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Human rights: A Common Responsibility: Transnational Human Rights Obligations. 01/11/2014 - 14/07/2017

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Erasmus Mundus. UA provides Erasmus Mundus research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Children's Rights Obligations of Non-State Economic Actors. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

The conception of nation States as the sole subjects of international law has been strongly shaken by challenges brought about by globalization. The emergence of non-State economic actors (NSEAs) such as transnational corporations or international financial institutions (IFIs) with de facto economic and political power is a reality that needs to be reckoned with, both politically and legally. Recent years have seen an ever-growing academic interest in illuminating the human rights obligations of these actors and an upsurge of international initiatives aiming to regulate their behaviour. Even more recent is the recognition that children and their rights should be given special consideration, as is evidenced by the 2012 Children's Rights and Business Principles and the 2013 General Comment 16 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Yet existing frameworks fall painfully short of responding to challenges and resolving pressing issues about the children's rights obligations of NSEAs to accord the necessary level of human rights protection to children everywhere. As such, many children are left without the much-needed shelter of human rights law and find themselves in situations detrimental to their wellbeing and best interests. The research project seeks uncover in what ways can the responsibility for children's rights that befalls upon nation States be complemented or shared by the responsibility of NSEAs and to develop principles applicable to the different array of NSEAs for the attribution and apportioning of this responsibility.

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God in school? A legal inquiry into the right to reasonable accommodation of religion and belief in educational institutions. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

The research aims at answering the central research question whether a right to reasonable accommodation of religion and belief should be recognized in the Flemish educational context. This question will be guided by two sub-questions. 1. Which principles can constitute the normative basis of the legal concept of reasonable accommodation of religious diversity in educational institutions? 2. Which difficulties may reasonable accommodation of religious diversity pose in the educational setting and how can they be addressed?

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Human Rights for Development (HR4DEV): Rights-Based Approaches to Human Rights and Children's Rights. 18/08/2014 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between Unesco and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides Unesco research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Human Rights for Development (HR4DEV). 27/07/2014 - 22/08/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand VLIR. UA provides VLIR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Child soldiers and the EU policy on children and armed conflict. 16/09/2013 - 13/12/2013

Abstract

The project will survey the reasons and practices of recruiting children in armed conflicts today, providing a map of the relevant countries, identifying the worst perpetrators and offering a definition of 'child soldier'.

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Law in action: (how) does the right to housing work (out)? 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2016

Abstract

This project seeks to answer crucial questions about the effects of fundamental rights in practice, in particular with regard to social rights (also called socio-economic rights). Are social rights meaningful in practice? What is the significance of invokability and effectiveness of fundamental rights? Is the law indeed looking for a new way to deal with fundamental rights and why is this the case? Of course, the existence of fundamental rights itself is inspired by the need to intervene in socially (or otherwise) unacceptable situations. In particular, the question has to be raised whether fundamental rights have the often assumed capacity to change the situation in practice. Although an analysis of the effects on the ground of fundamental rights draws on an important social debate, the research questions are grounded in a fundamental academic discussion. First of all, an explicit link will be made with notions of poverty and social exclusion. Indeed, the research question gains particular relevance in situations of poverty. Poverty and social exclusion have been defined as the denial or non-realisation of social rights. We will focus on the latter dimension, i.e. the non-realisation of social rights. Secondly, we will focus on one particularly relevant social right, the right to an adequate standard of housing (in short, the right to housing). The right to housing has been recognized as a social right internationally, regionally and domestically. Article 23 of the Belgian Constitution guarantees the right to housing since its 1993 amendment. The right to housing is used as a "case" to study the effectiveness of social rights, but the conclusions reached through this research are expected to be amenable to generalization to other social rights. The key question is whether we can expect successful results from legislation, rather than from individual dispute resolution in realising fundamental rights.

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Human Rights for Development: Rights-Based Approaches to Development. 30/07/2012 - 31/03/2013

Abstract

This project maps out the state-of-the-art of human rights-based approaches to development in theory and practice. It pays particular attention to gender and children's rights. Furthermore, it explores the application of a rights-based approach within the four UNESCO domains (education, communication, culture and science).

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The legal dimension of development: a partnership between the Refugee Law Project (Makerere University) and the Research Group on Law and Development (Antwerp University). 01/10/2011 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

The overall objectives of the SI" are (i) to promote knowledge - at the level of both partners as weil as the wider academic and soeietal constituencies in which they operate - obout the legal dimensions of dellelopment, and (ii) to enhonce the effectiveness of deve!opment interventions through the use of law. This wiJl be done through joint initiatives (under the three classica I functions of a university: education, research and service delivery) taken on the basis of a partnership between a Northern and a Southern partner in which both have the same degree of ownership and in which both benefit from exchanges that go in two directions.

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International interdisciplinary course: children's rights in a globalized world. 04/10/2010 - 30/11/2010

Abstract

iImplementation of the project "International interdisciplinary course: children's rights in a globalized world: from principles to practice". Expansion and deepening of globalisation results in the challenges of poverty, environmental degradation, child soldiering, child labour and migration assuming a new dimension. These developments challenge the concept of chldren's rights and ask for critical reflection on the role of children's rights as leverage for societal change.

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Project website

A legal study of power-sharing as an instrument of conflict resolution. 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

The proposed research aims at conducting an in-depth legal analysis of the technique of power-sharing which is increasingly being called upon by peace negotiators and included in peace accords that put an end to (internal) armed conflicts. The research will, first of all, study the legal qualification of power-sharing ¿ as a component of the wider peace accord ¿ under international law. In addition, the incorporation of the political agreement on power-sharing into the national (in particular constitutional) law of the countries concerned will be thoroughly analyzed. Finally, the proposed research will conduct a scientific analysis of the powersharing agreements from a human rights perspective.

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Beyond territoriality: globalisation and transnational human rights obligations (GLOTHRO). 15/06/2010 - 31/01/2015

Abstract

Human rights violations occur daily, all over the world. Sovereign States legally bear the primary responsibility for human rights violations. But what happens when these States are not able to live up to their human rights obligations? Do other States have extraterritorial obligations to help them out? Which role should other actors (companies, international organisations) play? This Programme starts from the assumption that human rights obligations, in particular also in the field of economic, social and cultural rights, need to be re-thought in the present era of globalisation. The displacement of the state and the increased power and impact of corporations and international organisations, pose major practical and conceptual challenges to human rights law. In practice, human rights law faces a serious risk of marginalisation if it fails to adapt to this changing reality. Conceptually, the decentralisation of the territorial state necessitates a fundamental re-thinking of a basic tenet of human rights law, i.e. that human rights obligations are primarily if not exclusively incumbent on the territorial state. The proposed Programme intends to address a dual challenge, i.e. to deepen the understanding of human rights obligations of foreign states, and to bring together sub-fields of human rights study, i.e. on the human rights obligations of transnational corporations, international organisations and foreign states.

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Consultancy assignment concerning training session in June 2011 for officials of the EU on "development and Human rights" 10/04/2010 - 30/06/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between UA and on the other hand EIUC. UA provides EIUC research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Evaluation of Norwegian and Swedish Aid in Support of the Rights of the Child. 01/04/2010 - 31/03/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal service agreement between the Chr. Michelsen Institute and on the University Antwerp. The project assesses the integration of children's rights in Swedish and Norwegian development cooperation. Special attention is paid to mainstreaming.

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UNICEF Scientific Chair Children's Rights. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

The Convention on the Rights of the Child necessitates the training of professionals in the letter and spirit of the Convention. Universities bear a specific obligation in this regard. The UNICEF Chair in Children's Rights - as a joint initiative of the University of Antwerp and UNICEF Belgium - testifies of the commitment of both to this responsibility. The Chair has its own research programme, and actively stimulates a children's rights component in other research programmes. In its own research programme, emphasis is put on conceptual issues (in particular the mutual reinforcement and enrichment of the children's rights and the general human rights framework), and on economic, social and cultural rights of children. Migration, poverty and child soldiers have been singled out as priority topics for 2010-2012. Particular attention is also paid to children's rights in development and development cooperation. The introduction of a children's rights perspective in other research agendas is sought in particular by organizing expert meetings with scholars in other areas of study.

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Project website

The position and role of non-state actors in international law. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

Traditional international law is still conceived as inter-state law. States are the main legal subjects in international law. Non-state actors, such as international organisations, companies, non-governmental organisations, armed groups, national liberation movements and even individuals manifest themselves more and more at all levels of international law and policy. The academic research group on the position and role of non-state actors in international law purports to examine what the legal position is of non-state actors in different fields of international law and international relations, and whether that position is desirable from a policy perspective. It will also scrutinize how non-state actors influence the development of international law on the basis of their legal position, and how desirable this influence is. The University of Antwerp will contribute from the perspective of human rights law, and more in particular economic, sociaal and cultural rights.

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Empowering the poor or protecting the powerful? Externally induced reforms and agency of local actors. A case-study on land dynamics in Rwanda and Burundi. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

Using land dynamics as its prism, this research project aims to understand 1) how opportunity structures - defined by norms, institutions, actors and implementation processes at the local, national and international level - interact with localized life-worlds and the agency of local actors; 2) how externally induced reforms may impact upon this interaction. Two case study countries will be considered: Rwanda and Burundi. The project adopts an actor-oriented perspective that aims to capture the complex interactions between human agency and the local institutional environment. It will use a combination of three disciplinary approaches: development anthropology, development economics, and law and development. The three components will be strongly linked and will fit into an overarching interdisciplinary methodology.

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    Right to Education of Undocumented Children. (UCARE) 01/11/2008 - 28/02/2010

    Abstract

    Despite multilevel attention for the right to education of undocumented children, field practitioners complain about the lack of knowledge on the educational situation of undocumented children and indicate that existing measures are not al-ways adequate. There are no reliable data on the number and characteristics of this group. Moreover, the few studies that have attempted to make estimations fail to inform us on group heterogeneity. As intra-group differences will have a direct impact on the barriers experienced by schools, children and parents, and on the conditions for implementing a more effective policy, it is vital to collect more detailed quantitative data. Further, despite the increasing number of field studies focusing on certain subgroups of undocumented migrants both abroad and in Belgian society, there are few available studies dealing specifically with the topic of educational processes. This project seeks to add on existing knowledge. Target population is restricted to elementary schools for reasons of feasibility and be-cause research shows the determinant effect of cumulated inequalities during primary schooling.

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    Children's Rights in a globalized world: from principles to practice. 04/08/2008 - 31/12/2008

    Abstract

    This international, interdisciplinary course seeks to insert a children's rights dimension into global development challenges such as poverty, exploitation, migratino and armed conflict. It departs from a traditional implementation perspective by raising critical questions on the empowerment potential of children's rights under conditions of globalisation.

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    Cross-fertilisation Between Children's Rights and Human Rights in the Field of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Towards an Integrated Conceptual Framework. 01/07/2008 - 31/12/2012

    Abstract

    Children's Rights are human rights. Nonetheless, children's rights and human rights tend to be studied as two separate fields of study. In this research, the mutual enrichment of both fields of study is scrutinized. In particular, it is examined how their respective conceptual frameworks could inform each other, and how both could be integrated into one single framework. Economic, social and cultural rights are focused upon.

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    A Human Rights-Based Approach to Development: Paralegals and the Implementation of Socio-Economic Rights of Children in South Africa 01/03/2008 - 31/12/2009

    Abstract

    The unsatisfactory implementation of socio-economic rights of children in South-Africa raises the question as to how strategically important human rights are in the struggle for improved socio-economic living standards. Particular emphasis will be put on the potential role of paralegals in a human rights-based approach to development, as applicable in Limpopo province.

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    Children on the run in detention. 15/02/2008 - 30/09/2008

    Abstract

    This research project scrutinizes Belgian asylum law and practice in light of international human and children's rights standards. It focuses on detention and conditions of care with regard to migrant children, and makes recommendations for legislative change.

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    Assignment for the evaluation of the commissariat for children's rights. 13/02/2008 - 13/06/2008

    Abstract

    The evaluation seeks to answer to distinctive questions, i.e. first of all how the Flemish Children's Rights Commissioner's Office has performed its tasks and duties over the past ten years. The second question concerns the current set of tasks itself: should it be maintained as such, and should these tasks be continued as tasks for the Flemish Children's Rights Commissioner.

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