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Crying for Our EldersAfrican Orphanhood in the Age of HIV and AIDS$
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Kristen E. Cheney

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226437408

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226437682.001.0001

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Children’s Rights: Participation, Protectionism, and Citizenship

Children’s Rights: Participation, Protectionism, and Citizenship

(p.43) 3 Children’s Rights: Participation, Protectionism, and Citizenship
Crying for Our Elders

Kristen E. Cheney

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that, due to the ways aid organizations and government policies have targeted orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), rights-based approaches have thus far failed to achieve widespread empowerment of children—nor have they adequately addressed the structural causes of the problems of orphans. Instead, the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s (CRC’s) ‘best interest principle’ hinders the actionability of children’s rights for OVC because of the convergence of the AIDS epidemic, children’s rights discourses, and humanitarian intervention in traditional extended-family systems of orphan support. Moreover, such interventions obscure the role of global neoliberal economic policies in child vulnerability. The reasons for this vulnerability can be traced to the ways in which children’s rights were conceptualized in the first place. This chapter therefore provides a brief history of the evolution of children’s rights and an examination of the CRC’s use of the concept of participation to argue that children’s rights are actually intended to protect rather than empower children. It ends by suggesting a conceptual shift to children’s citizenship to overcome the limitations of children’s rights discourse.

Keywords:   children’s rights, citizenship, empowerment, neoliberalism, participation, protectionism, UNCRC

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