1 Education Rights in a Society Emerging from Conflict: Curriculum and Student Participation as a Pathway to the Realization of Rights
The Northern Ireland Context: Conflict and Transition to Peace
Education Rights in a Society Emerging from Conflict
Curriculum and Student Participation as a Pathway to the Realization of Rights
Lesley Emerson & Laura Lundy
In societies emerging from conflict, the rhetorical and aspirational aspects of transition to peace are often framed in the context of the next generation, with children’s rights portrayed as central to the rebirth of the society (Lundy, 2006). The focus of peace-building initiatives at times of transition is both retrospective and prospective: remedying past injustices and creating the conditions for a more stable future. Children are likely to have been disproportionately affected by the conflict (Connolly & Healy, 2004; Machel, 1996), and children’s rights instruments provide a set of benchmarks for determining what is necessary to redress the social, psychological, and physical impacts of violence upon children. In terms of future planning, children’s rights are thought to form the building blocks for a human rights culture and are therefore recognized increasingly as core aspects of political settlements in transitional societies (see, e.g., Sacramento & Pessoa, 1996). More pragmatically, children’s rights are often perceived as politically neutral territory, making it easier to garner political and popular support for initiatives that benefit children than it is in other, more contentious spheres of engagement. Thus, not only are children’s rights regarded as “a powerful tool with which to kick-start the reconstruction of society” (Sloth-Nielsen, 1996, p. 328), but they also provide a potential rallying point for consensus in...
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