The University of Auckland
25 March 2013
World experts on children’s legal rights meet to support voices of children.
Leading children’s legal rights experts from around the world meet at a Colloquium today (25 March) to support
improvements in how legal systems listen to children and young people.
Hosted by The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Law, the colloquium marks the 20th anniversary of New Zealand’s
ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
New Zealand’s own youth justice system is internationally acknowledged for its success in keeping young people out of
the criminal justice system, and in dealing with them in family group conferences. However there is criticism of current
family court reform proposals which fall short of international standards and do not reflect best practice in other
Alison Cleland, former practising family lawyer and senior lecturer at Auckland’s Faculty of Law says: “New Zealand is
seen as a world leader on issues relating to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, but there are
some serious concerns about potential breach by removing ‘lawyer for child’ from the bulk of family law cases under the
Family Court Proceedings Bill.
“Colloquium discussions will focus on assessing how children and young people’s views are heard in different areas of
child law practice, alongside the roles of lawyers for children and young people in different legal settings,” says
17 child law experts from Canada, USA, South Africa, UK, Australia and New Zealand will gather at the University to
discuss topics including child abduction, adoption, domestic abuse, relocation, family proceedings, child protection and
youth justice. The keynote address will be given by Professor Elaine Sutherland, Professor of Child and Family Law at
University of Stirling, Scotland. Professor Sutherland’s latest publication is The Future of Child and Family Law:
International Predictions (2012, Cambridge University Press).
The Colloquium will also hear from Distinguished Professor Linda Elrod from American’s Washburn University School of
Law, who will discuss child abduction. Invited observers to the event include Dr Ian Hassall, a former New Zealand
“It is hoped that discussions and subsequent publications will contribute to promoting best legal practice in listening
to children’s voices both in New Zealand and internationally,” says Alison Cleland.
The Colloquium is funded by The University of Auckland Faculty Research and Development Fund.