Programme Overview

Children at the Heart of Human Rights

Registration for the 2022 edition opens in December 2021.

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 programme 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 favour a vibrant, challenging and fruitful interactive learning atmosphere.


Course credits

Equivalence of 4 ECTS

Students will be provided with a Certificate of Completion for their course if they satisfy attendance. Students wanting to acquire 4 ECTS have the opportunity to do so on the basis of a written assignement.

Please note that this is not an official University of Geneva transcript. It is the students’ own responsibility to validate this course for credit at their home university previsously to the summer school, as specified in our Regulations.

Professionals : CHF 1’600

External students : CHF 1’300

UNIGE students : CHF 250

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’s Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences. Until 2019, he was also the Director of the Centre for Children's Rights, which is located two hours away from Geneva on its new campus in Sion, Canton of Valais. Along with Jean Zermatten, he is responsible for the sector Child and Youth Policy within the Swiss Center of Expertise in Human Rights and serves on its Board. Trained in Geneva, New York and Boston, he worked several years as a clinical and legal psychologist in Massachusetts’ maximum security prison mental health system. After returning to Geneva, in addition to part-time (and then full-time) academic duties at the University of Geneva, he continued working in the prison system and developed a private practice as a psychotherapist and a court expert.

Areas of interest: hearing children in judicial proceedings, violence against children, children in conflict with the law, child-friendly justice, and the field of Children’s rights.

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).


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)