Children at the Heart of Human Rights

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This course is full. Registration for summer 2024 is closed. Registration for summer 2025 will open in January 2025.


Bachelor and Master's students, Ph.D. candidates, as well as junior professionals from all walks of life who are interested in children's rights.


In 2024, the University of Geneva is set to celebrate a significant milestone: the centenary of the Declaration of Geneva on the Rights of the Child. Additionally, the year coincides with the 10th anniversary of the "Children at the Heart of Human Rights" Summer School program. The 2024 edition will reflect on the evolution of children's rights over the past century and commemorate the groundbreaking work of Eglantyne Jebb, founder of Save the Children and the driving force behind the 1924 Declaration.

Geneva has long been one of the world’s capitals of international law and the headquarters of international institutions dedicated to human rights. This inspiring context naturally has led to one of the core strengths of the University of Geneva to be within the domain of international human rights laws and policies.

The Summer School ‘Children at the Heart of Human Rights’ is a unique opportunity for students and young professionals to engage with leading experts in a dynamic scientific interdisciplinary environment. It is the perfect academic and professional preparation experience for those students interested in children’s rights and international human rights organizations.

The course is shaped to bring out the best of current issues in the international debate on children’s rights studies and policies. It will examine these issues with an interdisciplinary perspective and investigate different international legal instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaties and standard-setting instruments. This program is characterized by a deep dive into the following :

  • the interplay between theory and practice in the field of children's rights,
  • the international perspective promoted by the lecturers from different regions of the world,

The blending of all these features will favor a vibrant, challenging and fruitful interactive learning atmosphere.


Equivalence of 6 ECTS

Students will be provided with a Certificate of Completion for their course if they satisfy attendance. Students wanting to acquire 6 ECTS have the opportunity to do so on the basis of a written assignment.

Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to validate this course for credit at their home university before the summer school, as specified in our Terms & Conditions.

Junior professionals: CHF 1,700

External students (*): CHF 1,400

UNIGE students (*): CHF 300

(*) Bachelor, master’s and Ph.D. degree-seeking students only. The tuition fees for lifelong learning students are subject to employment status.


Course + Accommodation Package

Participants choosing the package can register through us for housing at the Cité universitaire de Genève. Only a limited number of rooms are available for that course. All applications are handled on a first-come-first-served basis and assignments will be subject to availability.

Note: We only arrange housing from Saturday to Saturday.

Price accommodation: CHF 672 / 2 weeks





The teaching staff is composed of enthusiastic outstanding scholars, teachers and experts from academic settings, international organizations such as the UNHCR, WHO, ILO, ICRC and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Non-Governmental Organizations and Independent National Human Rights Institutions on Children’s Rights.

Moreover, the academic content and organization of the programme is supervised by the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies (CCR - UNIGE) in partnership with International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE), two leading institutions in the field of children's rights.

The Programme Director and Co-director along with the Programme Coordinator are responsible for the design of the study programme and its dynamic.

Course Directors:

Prof. Philip D. Jaffé

Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Former Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights Studies, University of Geneva, Valais Campus

Philip D. Jaffé is professor at the University of Geneva and the founding director of its Centre for Children’s Rights Studies. In 2018, he was elected to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and is currently serving his second mandate until 2027. A clinical and forensic psychologist trained in Switzerland and the USA, he remains a practicing clinical (licensed psychotherapist) and forensic psychologist, as well as a court-appointed expert witness. Beyond the traditional "teach, research, publish or perish missions", his vision of academic life is to branch out in the community at large as a science practitioner and educator

Dr. Jean Zermatten

President of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2011 - 2013) and former Director of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child, Sion.

Jean Zermatten was President and Dean of the Juvenile Court of the Canton of Valais (Switzerland) from 1980 to 2005. He is the Founder of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE) in Sion/Switzerland and has been a Lecturer at the University of Fribourg (Arts Faculty, Social Work and Law Faculty). He is Dr h.c. from the University of Fribourg

He has initiated and launched the MAS in Children’s Rights, in collaboration with the University of Fribourg and the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch and various academic DAS and CAS on children's rights issues for professionals.

He has worked on various continents, including in Africa and is Member of the WAN (West Africa Network for children on the move, with the International Social Service).

UN Committee for the Rights of the Child: member since 2005, Vice-Chair 2007-11, Chairperson 2011-2013.

Dr. Roberta Ruggiero

Senior Research Associate, Centre for Children’s Rights Studies (CCR - UNIGE), scientific coordinator of the Master of Advanced Studies in Children's Rights and scientific academic coordinator of the European Network of National Observatories on Childhood (ChildONEurope) (2008 - 2013).

Roberta Ruggiero holds an MA in Law, an MA in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA) and a PhD in Promotion and Protection of Children’s Rights. She is Senior Research and Teaching Associate at the University of Geneva’s Centre for Children's Rights Studies (CCRS – UNIGE), where she coordinates and teaches in several training programmes, namely the Master of Advanced Studies in Children's Rights, the Summer School ‘Children at the Heart of Human Rights’ and the MOOC ‘Interdisciplinary Introduction to Children’s Rights’. She is the former scientific coordinator of the European Network of National Observatories on Childhood (ChildONEurope), Istituto degli Innocenti (2008-2013), senior lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Padua, Italy and external professor on children’s rights at the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, University of Molise, Italy. Prior to these positions, she worked as researcher at the IOM Europe Office and at UNICEF-Innocenti Research Centre. Her research interests and publications include children’s rights in the EU framework of law and policy, independent national human rights institutions for children, implementation of children’s rights and comparative childhood governmental policies.

She is member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal on Child Maltreatment: Research, Policy and Practice, of the International Advisory Board of The International Journal of Children's Rights (Brill) AND of the Working Group on National Child Maltreatment Data Collection of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).


The participation of lecturers is subject to confirmation.


Download Schedule as PDF

Submitted by Arifur Rahman, NYU School of Law - 2023 Online Edition

Studying Children at the Heart of Human Rights course at the University of Geneva Summer School was a transformative learning experience for me that fundamentally challenged, shaped, and encouraged me to re-think the way I came to know about child rights; and is complimenting my current study on Human Rights at NYU Law. Indeed, it was only possible because of the course’s approach toward child rights from both theoretical and practical points of view by bringing leading academicians, lawyers, and activists working for child rights under the same platform.

Submitted by Natalie Meyer, Law Clinic, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa - 2022 In-Person Edition

What an incredible and life-changing experience it was attending the GSS. I met people from all around the world and made great friends. I learnt so much from leading experts in the field, and even had the opportunity to meet some of the members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which, as a lawyer, was incredibly inspiring for me. I will cherish every memory I made. Thank you GSS!

Submitted by Marie-Pier Jolicoeur, Laval University, Canada -  2022 Online Edition

As a doctoral student in law at Laval University in Quebec, I was very grateful to participate in the 2022 edition of Children at the Hearth of Human Rights to meet online experts from around the world to increase my knowledge and thoughts on children's rights. I really enjoyed the discussions with my colleagues and the project work that provides an opportunity to brainstorm a draft fourth protocol on an important issue affecting children's rights. It was very concrete. Finally, as I lived in Quebec, I was happy that the conferences were recorded because it was easier to follow the morning conferences in Geneva during the afternoon in Quebec than in the middle of the night !

Submitted by Arifur Rahman, LLM Candidate in International Law at University of Dhaka -  2022 Online Edition

I would call it an educational adventure on child rights that I embarked on during the Geneva Summer School on Children at the Heart of Human Rights. Throughout the journey, I learned, explored and reshaped my knowledge on child rights while interacting with the experts on child rights, be it academicians or the UN CRC committee members, as well as with a diverse group of learners. The course introduced me to some great educators like Professors Benyam Mezmur, Dr Roberta Ruggiero and Philip Jaffé, to name a few, whose in-depth knowledge continuously challenged my preconceived understanding and ideas on child rights. What amused me most is the way the course struck the balance between theory and practice within the context of child rights. I attended the summer school virtually and it was equally engaging and lively with the audience, be it online or in person, thanks to the excellent programme assistants, instructors and the whole organizing committee. Last but not least, working on the group project was an excellent opportunity not only to think about child rights by going beyond the conventional way but also to mutually share and exchange insights with the team. To conclude, Geneva Summer School on Children at the Heart of Human Rights was a wonderful journey that I would cherish forever.

Submitted by Kobina Wilson, Trinidad & Tobago - 2021 Online Edition

This course went beyond my expectations. The schedule was laden with presentations on issues affecting the rights of the child from most knowledgeable, qualified presenters with practical experiences to inspire and lead our cohort of young academics, activists and professionals. We tracked contemporary and emerging issues such as the rights of the child and social media, the COVID-19 pandemic, Climate Change, Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

Submitted by Melissa Dassrath, Trinidad & Tobago - 2021 Online Edition

I am grateful for this learning experience…which has brought together a diverse group of experts and students with a passion for children’s rights issues. My knowledge has been strengthened re the international provisions for child protection and the implementation challenges, the need for advocacy re migrant children gender fluid youth and climate change impacts. The opportunity to participate in the Summer School reinforced the stellar work of the IIR in offering a superb M.Sc. Global Studies programme.

Submitted by Tracy-Ann King, Trinidad & Tobago - 2021 Online Edition

I have a M.Sc. in Child and Youth Studies and am a child rights advocate, always eager to learn more about children’s rights and connect with others in the field. This scholarship opportunity facilitated that. We had enriching discussions on the CRC from academics, CRC members and other experts. I feel confident in embarking on and supporting child rights initiatives here in Trinidad and Tobago and elsewhere and will welcome partnering with any organization to protect and promote children’s rights. Thank you to the UWI IIR for providing a truly amazing opportunity!

Submitted by Dindin - University of Geneva | March 24, 2017

Challenging and exciting

I attended this course in 2015 and I really loved everything about it - from the interesting people I met to the academic content. Having the opportunity to meet and attend lectures by

some of the most important figures in this field is truly an asset (GoAbroard Review)

Submitted by Leah - Ottawa, Canada, Western University | March 24, 2017

Highly recommend!

The Children at the Heart of Human Rights program was absolutely AMAZING! I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in children, or in general human rights. It was such an

incredible experience and I am so honoured to have had the opportunity to partake in it. I met people from all around the world, and still keep in contact with them! By taking this course you will learn SO much, have amazing cultural experiences, and meet some outstanding people. 10/10 would recommend!!! (GoAbroad Review)

Anna Lemberg

I truly recommend this school for those, who want to spend their summer productively, meet new people, get valuable knowledge and experience of collaborating with international community, as well as envoy beautiful and very international Geneva! Satisfied with it for 100%! Go for Geneva summer school. (Facebook Review)