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Giorgia Brucato Department of Political Science, Central European University, Vienna, Austria

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Abstract

Within a framework of rights that protects children's interests and seek to balance their developing interests in welfare and agency, I consider how contexts of war impact children's lives to argue that such contexts provide opportunities to advance or set back both the development of moral powers, namely capacities for a sense of justice and a conception of the good, and capacities for autonomy. Besides an interest in satisfying their basic needs and protection, children have an interest in developing their moral powers and growing into autonomous agents. Evidence shows great variation in children's responses to traumatic circumstances, from severe psychological disorders to enhanced resiliency and moral reasoning. As moral powers and autonomy ground the permissibility for paternalistic treatment and the exclusion of children from certain rights, I argue that once the war is over children are entitled to an adequate assessment of how their interests and capacities have changed. For children whose development was set back, states should grant opportunities for recovery and further development, which suggests strengthening welfare and protection rights; while for children whose development was advanced, states should recognize such advancement and grant opportunities for the exercise of their newfound capacities, which suggests granting certain agency rights alongside welfare and protection.

Abstract

Within a framework of rights that protects children's interests and seek to balance their developing interests in welfare and agency, I consider how contexts of war impact children's lives to argue that such contexts provide opportunities to advance or set back both the development of moral powers, namely capacities for a sense of justice and a conception of the good, and capacities for autonomy. Besides an interest in satisfying their basic needs and protection, children have an interest in developing their moral powers and growing into autonomous agents. Evidence shows great variation in children's responses to traumatic circumstances, from severe psychological disorders to enhanced resiliency and moral reasoning. As moral powers and autonomy ground the permissibility for paternalistic treatment and the exclusion of children from certain rights, I argue that once the war is over children are entitled to an adequate assessment of how their interests and capacities have changed. For children whose development was set back, states should grant opportunities for recovery and further development, which suggests strengthening welfare and protection rights; while for children whose development was advanced, states should recognize such advancement and grant opportunities for the exercise of their newfound capacities, which suggests granting certain agency rights alongside welfare and protection.

1 Introduction

This paper is part of a broader attempt to normatively reflect on what is owed as a matter of justice to children who have experienced war1 and what is the morally right way in which societies transitioning from war to peace should treat those children, once the conflict is over. The key questions I address here concern the morally right way of treating children given the impact of war experiences on their processes of developing autonomy and moral powers in their Rawlsian sense,2 that is capacities to form, revise, and pursue one's conception of the good and to understand and apply a sense of justice, and how to translate such morally justified treatment into legally codified rights.

In the course of violent conflicts children are exposed to extraordinary, usually traumatic situations, the consequences of which extend into the post-conflict phase, creating special entitlements to justice. The complex case of war calls for a thorough examination of how children are impacted by war-related harm, not only in terms of the impact it has on their opportunities to satisfy basic needs, but also as regards the process of developing moral powers and capacities relevant for autonomy, grounding certain agency - and not only welfare - rights. In my analysis, I maintain both the idea that children are entitled to protection, because of their vulnerability to experience harm, and that children should be granted recognition of and respect for the capacities and interests they gradually develop. This recognition entails providing adequate opportunities to exercise such capacities.

In the first section of the paper, I anchor my understanding of children's rights within the ‘interest’ theory of rights, discussing both welfare and agency rights, and considering a mixed, gradualist approach that is capable of accounting for the fact that children's interests and capacities both develop in stages, and thus that the acquisition of the relevant rights should be tailored accordingly. In the second section, I consider how war-related experiences impact children, particularly in their development of moral powers and capacities for autonomy. While it is clear that exposure to war and violence can, and often do, impact negatively on children's overall development, there is some evidence showing that children can respond positively to traumatic circumstances, for example by building up resilience and showing advanced capacities for cognitive and moral reasoning. In the third section, I argue that children who have experienced war have, in the aftermath of it, a Moral Development Claim, namely a justice-based claim to have recognized the extent to which their capacities for moral powers and autonomy have been impacted, for better or worse, by exposure to war. This is so because such capacities typically justify paternalistic treatment and the exclusion from benefiting from certain rights. I then discuss the translation of such moral claims into legally codified rights, giving examples of granting extensive welfare rights but also sometimes agency rights, such as in the case of children needing medical treatment, or older children being given the option to resume their education or enter the job market. I conclude the section by addressing some concerns related to my proposal.

2 A children's rights framework

To meet the basic needs of children is considered a particularly urgent moral requirement; at the same time, deliberate or negligent harm inflicted upon them is morally condemned. Contexts of war evidently impact both the satisfaction of children's basic needs and their experience of harms. One way to express the moral urgency associated with children's moral claims is through rights.3 Not all rights legally recognized are moral, neither does every moral claim translate to a right, so it is helpful to keep this distinction in mind when asking how children's justice-based claims, such as the Moral Development claims of children who have experienced war that I advance in the third section, can be translated into legally codified rights.

Before illustrating how war impacts children's moral development and the related claims, I discuss here my understanding of children's rights in general, and consider a gradualist framework to ground the protection of the interests and capacities of children who have experienced war. While there are clearly codified rights that protect the interests of children during war,4 there has been little normative reflection on what rights should be ascribed to children in the aftermath of a conflict, and why.5 The aim of this paper is to suggest a normative and legal framework to think about these questions.

2.1 Protecting children's interests through rights

There are two main competing theories that explain the function of rights, grounded in the protection of one's choices or interests. The ‘will’ or ‘choice’ theory holds that a right is the protected exercise of a choice which recognizes the person as an autonomous agent. The premise that rights serve the purpose of protecting choices, thus that a rights-holder must show the capacity to make such choices (that is, only autonomous people can be rights-holders), and the premise that children do not have the capacity to make autonomous choices, lead to the conclusion that children cannot be holders of rights. This does not mean that there would be no moral duties owed to children, just that the explanation for these obligations is not to be found in them being rights-holders.

However, the mainstream position today is that children do have at least some rights, and that children's rights should protect their interests. The almost universal international ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child6 (CRC) both expressed a shift in the understanding of children as rights holders, and helped consolidate such a position, which challenges the first premise of the ‘choice’ theory of rights.7 At the same time, as I will discuss later, a more nuanced understanding of what it means for a child to be autonomous, and appreciating that capacities for autonomy develop gradually and over time, challenge the second premise of the theory.

Contra a ‘choice’ theory of rights, an ‘interest’ theory of rights holds that the function of rights is to protect what is fundamentally important to us, such as certain things, goods, services and values that are in our interest. This theory is thus able to overcome the children's lack of capacities argument used to exclude them from rights. As Raz8 explains, there is a direct connection between interests, rights, and duties. According to him, an individual is capable of having rights when her well-being is of ultimate value, such that an aspect of that individual's well-being, her interest, is a sufficient reason for holding others under duty. In other words, when a certain aspect of her well-being is a reason for holding others under duty, that person has a right.

The ‘interest’ theory is about what function rights should serve, but more needs to be said about what interests should be protected by rights. The core reason for protecting an interest is that it is presumptively beneficial for the claim-holder, so if the claim-holder does not have the competence to realise the content of the claim, the claim lacks strength.9 Rights that typically presuppose competence are, for instance, rights to enter into economic or marriage contracts, from which children are excluded on the grounds of lack of competence to make such decisions for themselves, or the right to drive, which is typically conditional on having passed some competence test. Yet if the function of rights is to protect fundamental interests, it is rather straightforward to attribute certain rights to children, and to publicly articulate them, such as interests in care, shelter, health or education,10 which are instances of welfare rights, that is rights that promote and protect basic needs and indeed the well-being of people.

I see two other strengths of the ‘interest’ theory over a ‘choice’ one. One is that it is able to account for the intuition that we should not assign children the exact same rights we assign adults, as some of those rights will actually fail to protect their interests, and children and adults have different sets of interests or give different weight to the same interests. The other is that while it disentangles capacities to make choices from the protection of important interests, it could account for the interest in making autonomous choices, to be protected for instance by agency rights, that is rights that protect and promote one's agential capacities and autonomous choices.

2.2 Between concern for welfare and respect for developing autonomy

One way to think about the distinction between welfare and agency rights is to think about the different normative source that gives strength to the right: welfare rights are derived from a concern-based attitude for the objective identification and protection of fundamental interests, while agency rights are derived from a respect-based attitude for the recognition and protection of autonomy.

The ‘interest’ theory is thus capable of explaining how children are holders of rights, but the rights typically justified by holders of this view, when it comes to children, are welfare ones. They do not straightforwardly attribute to children agency rights, as they place more weight on children's vulnerability and dependence from others than on their agential capacities.11 Yet, a more nuanced understanding of what it means for a child to be autonomous, and appreciating that capacities for autonomy develop gradually and over time, challenge the idea that children should uniquely be recipients of welfare rights.

Autonomy as a general concept reflects the idea that most of us have the capacity to make independent decisions about our lives and thus should be left to self-govern and direct our lives. To claim that children are fully autonomous is clearly implausible, but they evidently show the capacities for it in varying degrees.12 On a simple account of personal autonomy, autonomous individuals are thought to have some level of capacities for critical reflection on the authenticity of their preferences, values, and commitments, which are usually called ‘authenticity’ conditions for autonomy, as well as capacities for living according to those preferences, values, and commitments without interference, such as means-ends reasoning, rational thought, and self-control, which are usually called ‘competency’ conditions.13

Some views suggest that the autonomous agency of children, on a conception of it that is appropriate to their developing capacities, is relevant for identifying the kinds of treatment that children have a claim to receive.14 Personal autonomy can also be understood as global or local, and while it is unlikely that children will show full personal (global) autonomy, they can show capacities for local autonomy.15 For example, children aged ten might not be autonomous in choosing whether to undergo a particularly important medical treatment, but they can choose who they would rather be friends with; or they might not be able to choose an adequate diet, but they can choose how to dress or which haircut to have. Even in cases of medical treatment, it seems important to consult with them beforehand.16 This is partly because children should have a say in decisions that affect them,17 and partly because to become autonomous, that is, to develop capacities for autonomy, children sometimes need to be treated as if they were already autonomous,18 and be allowed to make choices in situations when the stakes are not too high.

A common view, also found within the CRC, is that children should be consulted and, importantly, heard,19 that is, their views should be taken seriously and they should be given opportunities to express them, yet their decisions do not have authoritative force, as in the decision of whether to undergo a specific medical treatment, which ultimately remains with the adult caretaker. A view that takes seriously children's present capacities for autonomy, however, needs to consider that in the natural development of the child, capacities appear in stages, and that when such capacities reach the relevant threshold for a specific domain of choices, it might be in children's interests to make certain choices authoritatively. Because children seem to care about being considered to some extent autonomous, and to perceive their dignity being harmed when not, their acquisition of rights should also be thought of in stages, corresponding to the stages through which they acquire agency.20 An interest theory of rights capable of accounting how interests change over time, thereby tracking the development of capacities that attract specific rights, as well as the claim of having an interest in opportunities to exercise such capacities, can indeed better reflect the gradual nature of the development of both interests and capacities.

2.3 Balancing welfare and agency interests

Any ‘interest’ theory of rights that wants to adequately respond to children's development should thus be sensitive to the gradual development of different capacities to hold different attracting-rights interests, including interests in sometimes making choices that go against one's interests, when one has the relevant agential capacities to make such choices. A gradualist model that accounts for processes of intellectual, emotional, and moral growth in children, as proposed by Brennan,21 initially understands rights as functioning merely to protect their interests, and then, as children grow into autonomous agents, to ensure that their choices, even those which do not serve their welfare, are respected. That is the nutshell of a mixed approach according to which the dichotomy between ‘choice’ and ‘interest’ in theories of rights actually undermines our understanding of children's rights and the function they serve. I believe Brennan is right in her intuitions that as capacities evolve, so interests shift, and that once capacities for autonomous decision-making (first locally and then globally) emerge, respect for autonomy trumps concern over welfare interests. However, it seems to me that one can understand the ‘mixed’ model without departing from an interests-based approach, if that takes into account the mix of welfare and agency interests and their gradual development, which tracks the development of the relevant capacities.22

I take it that children have important morally relevant interests, such as interests in: the satisfaction of basic needs and living good childhoods, that is, in not being harmed; in growing into autonomous beings and developing morally, that is in developing the relevant agential capacities; and more broadly in living in just and peaceful societies. It is easy to see how wars mostly endanger such interests, but children who go through war experiences keep growing and developing capacities, sometimes in unexpectedly positive ways, as I discuss in the next section. It is not obvious, then, how a framework of rights can be tailored to ensure the realization of all such interests, and how to balance contrasting interests in welfare and agency, once the war is over. Indeed, rights serve both as protections and a set of options for the individual, as well as constraints on the behaviour of other moral agents, both in a positive sense, meaning that rights put constraints on others to contribute to the realization of certain rights, and in a negative sense, meaning that they restrict others' interference in the satisfaction of certain rights. Parents or guardians usually balance the status of the child as chooser, present as well as future, with whatever is at stake in the decision for the child. In order to do that adults can, for instance, follow La Follette's model of autonomy gradualism which acknowledges the different stages of a child's development, moving along the spectrum of recognized autonomy from ‘administered autonomy’, where the guardian has the final word, to ‘minimally constrained autonomy’, where children are allowed to make their own mistakes and live with the consequences.23 If it seems intuitive that a model of the sort is already in place within many families, it is more complex to identify the boundaries of which sets of choices children are allowed to take autonomously, and from which age on, when thinking of the state and the institutionalization of rights. Any legal codification of rights recognized by the state typically identifies (and justifies) thresholds for the assignment of certain rights, not least because it would be very costly to implement a system that individually assesses both a child's interests and development, and their relevant capacities in specific domains of choices. In this paper I consider why states should gradually assign both welfare and agency rights, particularly for children in the aftermath of war, given the impact that war experiences have on children's developing interests and capacities.

3 War and children's moral development

The first systematic attempt by the United Nations to report on the impact of armed conflict on children, the groundbreaking document Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children - Impact of armed conflict on children, authored by Graça Machel, was released in 1996.24 The report identified children as the main victims of war, as well as the main ways in which children can be harmed during it. There seems to be a tendency to reduce the needs of children to, basically, food, health, education, shelter, and loving care, and these needs are thought to be universally shared by children anywhere, as reflected by the provisions contained in the CRC.25 I do not dispute this to be the case; however, understanding how the particular conceptions of children and childhood are reflected in social institutions is crucial to the sensitive tailoring of reconstruction and reintegration mechanisms for societies which have been through conflict.26 Different cultural and ethical systems characterize different societies; thus representations of childhood and socialization models can vary significantly, which means that the way children are treated and integrated into society can look very different. Looking at what happens to the child during conflict suggests that, in the post-conflict phase, it is crucial that foundations are laid for a legal framework that addresses the recent suffering of the child and ensures their present and future effective protection, and that necessary public infrastructure for the development of the child, such as hospitals and schools, is built; but also that the way in which exposure to war has changed both children's capacities and interests is reflected in adequate opportunities to exercise such capacities and protect such interests, by an adequate framework of rights.

3.1 Children exposed to war-related harm

There are many different situations in which children might find themselves harmed during conflict. For example, children are a) physically and/or emotionally harmed or traumatized, which includes cases of psychological suffering, children who fall ill, get injured (the result of which can be temporary or permanent disability, or death), sexually abused children, as well as children who were already living in a condition of harm, whose vulnerability is exacerbated because of the unstable, violent context, or children who cannot satisfy their basic health and nutritional needs through a lack of supplies or lack of access to humanitarian aid. Besides long-term physical consequences, exposure to war and political violence can provoke the appearance of psychopathologies in childhood and adolescence, often carried into adulthood, such as severe feelings of demoralization, depression and psychological and psychiatric disorders of various kinds, while unresolved trauma may, over time, lead to deviant or disturbed behavior.27 The UN Machel Report28 showed alarming data concerning children's psychological wellbeing, which triggered psychologists' interest in furthering research into war-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in children. Indeed, factors such as age, gender, culture, and the nature and intensity of the traumatic event impact how children perceive and respond to trauma, but psychological consequences of trauma can be wide-ranging and long-lasting.29 It seems plausible that such negative psychological consequences set back the development of moral powers and capacities for autonomy in children. They are also often b) separated from their families (e.g. unaccompanied children), which can happen voluntarily or not, because they became separated from their parents or lost in the process of fleeing, or because they were kidnapped, or because the parents have died. Since children have unique physical, emotional, and mental developmental needs (e.g. they need to be learning about the world and themselves as they grow up, learning to socialize, and building up their knowledge and personalities), and since families and primary caretakers are uniquely suited to provide for such needs while granting a safe environment, when children are separated from their families they become even more vulnerable. At the same time, it seems also plausible that, away from familiar contexts, children are more likely to face situations in which they have to rely only on themselves for survival and to make important decisions, which provide opportunities to exercise and thus develop more capacities for autonomy. During wars children are often c) forced to flee their homes and/or countries, becoming internally displaced or refugees. Children are also often d) directly or indirectly involved in violence, (e.g. child soldiers). Mostly, children within armed groups are forcibly recruited, but some willingly join armed groups for reasons which have to do with survival and protection, or sometimes ideology – the first two reasons indicate conditions of duress,30 the latter can be the product of indoctrination or manipulation which children are vulnerable to (all of which suggest overall lack of autonomy); however, ideological reasons could also be an indicator of autonomous agency, for instance when the ideology is authentically endorsed.31 Notably, children involved with armed groups incur higher risks of harm as their vulnerabilities are often exploited for military advantage, and it is plausible that children who commit (or are forced to commit) serious wrongdoing, are themselves profoundly harmed by such acts and suffer from psychological consequences. Lastly, children are also e) more broadly impacted by the general consequences that war has on society as a whole, on the economic system, on infrastructure and the provision or basic services (through e.g. attacks on schools and hospitals), and on culture.32

Despite widespread exposure to violence and harmful situations, children's responses to traumatic events vary, and it is possible to identify cases where, instead, development of moral powers is triggered. For example, growing up in contexts of political violence can result in a premature emotional development and unusually advanced capacity to think and reason in a moral and ethical sense.33 One of the early studies on the impact of political violence on moral reasoning in children34 shows that children exposed to war and resource inequity have higher justice- and care-oriented responses and identify with the role of victims, expecting reparations for perceived past injustices (although their levels of moral functioning seem compromised by the exposure to violence and economic deprivation). Recent research also found widespread resilience (that is, capacity to respond to challenges, return to stability, adjust to a new normal, and transform to survive and flourish) as well as increased prosocial behaviour among children exposed to war violence.35 I elaborate on this idea in the next section.

3.2 Development of moral powers and capacities for autonomy

I use the term moral development, in short, to mean the development of a combination of capacities for moral powers, in their Rawlsian sense, and capacities for personal autonomy, as explained in section 1. To explore the link between capacities for autonomy and moral powers goes beyond the scope of this paper; however, it should be noted that because not all choices have a moral character, advanced moral powers do not necessarily make someone more autonomous; similarly, advanced capacities for autonomy do not necessarily make someone a more capable moral agent. At the same time, a sense of justice and a conception of what counts as a good life are often part of the background motivations that lead to the autonomous pursuit of certain options rather than others, and autonomy is needed for the realization and exercise of one's moral powers.

The process by which we develop our capacities for moral powers and for autonomy is a gradual one, which follows the more broadly understood (and studied) development of cognitive and moral reasoning during childhood and adolescence.36 Through new experiences and by gaining more knowledge through education and social interactions, by having to make increasingly difficult choices and dealing with their consequences, something triggers that sense of justice and morality that we typically take adults to have acquired in full, but which has in fact been gradually cultivated from much earlier in life, as well as reflection on one's preferences and values, and the exercise of capacities such as means-ends reasoning, self-control, and critical judgment, all of which count towards the improvement of both one's moral powers and autonomy.

It seems plausible, based on my above discussion of circumstances in which children who experience war might find themselves, that they would experience situations where they have to make important choices and face difficult challenges, often on their own, and thus have opportunities to exercise their developing autonomy, for example, by having to use means-ends reasoning to ensure their survival when separated from their family, or by critically reflecting on the reasons of the warring parties and which side to take. It could be argued that capacities for autonomy entail more than just minimal capacities for reasoning and decision-making, and that full personal autonomy might require capacities to self-regulate and control emotions, which might disqualify children who have developed psycho-pathologies or suffer from emotional trauma from being considered autonomous. Nonetheless, the point is that when capacities for (local) autonomy in certain domains of choices are present, they should be given recognition.

As for processes of the development of moral powers, if they normally start within the family, and later advance through interaction with society more broadly, through schooling and by engaging with authority and social norms, there seems to be a distinctive way in which war impacts moral development, because typically it disintegrates that very broader societal framework that children need to engage with.37 Social norms are usually broken down, and societies at war are likely to suffer from killing, cruelty, widespread destruction, and the disruption of trust. Consider also the difficulty of making up for such harsh societal contexts when families cannot shield the child from violence and provide safety and ‘normality’.

Yet, an examination of war-time children's journals38 suggests that those children's intellectual, emotional, and social worlds are permeated by reflections about the meaning of war, peace, death, suffering, justice, and the like. During wars, within schools, families, and society at large, conversations and narratives are likely to center around the importance of war efforts and their causes and consequences, which are likely to trigger reflections on moral concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, and justice, for example in moments of play, family life, discussions among peers, or in educational settings. Today, access to the internet and social media further amplifies exposure to war-related content and opportunities to engage with it, even among children.

It is true that during wars children are harmed, experiencing extraordinary suffering and loss, but they also have various life experiences which are different from those in normal, peaceful times, which expose them to situations that may hinder, or foster, the development of moral powers and capacities for personal autonomy, such as opportunities to build self-esteem, resilience, and empowerment through resistance.

The precise effects of war on children's moral development thus can vary (and may also appear at the same time): from severe mental and psychological disorders and distorted moral categories, to enhanced resiliency and cognitive capacities, as well as advanced engagement with concepts of right and wrong and capacity to sometimes autonomously act upon that understanding.39 I elaborate in the next section what this means when trying to identify justice-based claims and relative rights for children in the aftermath of war.

4 From moral development to welfare and agency rights

Liberal views commonly grant that children are owed the assistance they need to develop a conception of the good in a timely manner with regards to their development,40 to develop the sense of justice and morality necessary for securing that all can live with independence but together in society,41 and to develop their capacities for living autonomous lives.

The importance of ‘getting right’ the extent to which children do or do not have moral powers and capacities for autonomy is linked both to the idea that these capacities are what typically do or do not justify paternalistic treatment of children, the exercise of authority over them, and their exclusion from a certain set of rights; and to the agential capacities argument that when an agent possesses certain capacities, then they are owed certain rights and opportunities to exercise those capacities. Differently from cases where adults lack such capacities (for example, due to mental impairments), the case of children is more complex because children usually have the opportunity to keep developing, although sometimes the exercises of their present capacities can preclude future opportunities for the further development and exercise of other capacities, and it falls within responsibilities that adults have towards children to leave their futures ‘open’.42 In the balancing of present and future interests, and in the provision of opportunities to exercise such capacities through the assignment of rights, this should be kept in mind.43

4.1 The moral development claim argument

I take it that children have a morally weighty interest in developing their moral powers and becoming autonomous. However, section 2 has shown that war exposes children to traumatic circumstances, and thus impacts their moral development for better or worse, by either (a) setting back or (b) advancing it.

Indeed, children show a significantly varied range of responses to war-related harm. Some responses are clearly negative, like mental, psychological, and behavioral disorders, or wrongful internalizations of moral categories; some are positive,44 like enhanced cognitive and moral reasoning and resiliency, which suggests great variation in their development of moral powers and capacities for autonomy. While it might seem more intuitive, and evidenced by research, that war-related experiences have mostly a traumatic, negative effect on children's development, it is possible that sometimes children, particularly teenagers, respond to such experiences positively. This is because they are more likely (than children in peaceful contexts) to engage with moral reasoning and autonomous choices, as they often find themselves in situations where they have to make considerations based on what is right and wrong and what justice requires, and to act on such considerations (e.g. whether to join rebel armed groups, separate from families, flee their homes, support one's side, engage in social and political movements, etc.), thus developing their capacities.

A similar thought has been expressed by Siegrist45 reflecting on experiences of children and transitional justice:

The discussion of children's evolving capacities needs to acknowledge that, in situations of conflict and instability, children's political sensibilities are likely to be heightened, leading them to become responsible beyond their years. During armed conflict and political violence, children may be exposed to both short-term and long-term physical, mental and emotional harm. They may also find ways to survive in the face of extreme hardship. Following the genocide in Rwanda an estimated 100,000 children were orphaned and living in child-headed households. This may be a sign of their resilience or an effort to cope, or may simply indicate that they have prematurely taken on adult responsibilities, depending on the specific factors and conditions that individual children face. The principle of evolving capacities cannot be applied indiscriminately; it must be considered from the perspective of a child's own experience and life skills.46

Because capacities for autonomy and moral powers typically ground the (im)permissibility of certain treatments (such as paternalism and the granting of certain agency and welfare rights), we ought to assess adequately the extent to which children have developed such capacities to give them due recognition and determine how they ought to be treated, including tailoring interventions aimed at children and socio-political institutions in a way that allows for the exercise, or ‘correction’ and development, of such capacities.47

I thus argue that children who have experienced war have a justice-based claim to have recognized the extent to which their moral development has been impacted by war.48 The claim can go in either of two directions: for those children (a) whose moral development was hindered by exposure to conflict, the claim holds that they are owed reparative compensation for harm49 and adequate opportunities to make up for the loss and advance their development (Negative Moral Development claim), which translates to extensive welfare rights and assistance; while for those (b) whose development was advanced, the claim holds that they are owed opportunities to meaningfully exercise such developed capacities, for example by granting them some agency, and not only welfare rights (Positive Moral Development claim).

4.2 Between welfare and agency rights

The suggestion that children with a Negative Moral Development claim are entitled to opportunities to either correct mistaken internalizations of moral categories, or advance their set-back moral development, translates to granting them an extensive set of welfare rights, that is rights that protect and provide opportunities for satisfying basic needs and the promotion of welfare.

To illustrate, such children should be granted: rights to physical health, as they will need medical assistance towards healing; rights to mental health, as they will need psychological assistance towards recovery; rights to education, as they will need opportunities to make up for any missed time in school and receive adequate training to prepare for the future, as well as benefit from peer interaction and socialization; family rights, as the state should promote, when possible, family reunification and reintegration, as well as children's welfare through services and resources offered to families; rights to care and protection, as the state should ensure that children are adequately cared for and protected, within families or state-care facilities (when children are separated from their families or orphaned) and within institutions that interact with children.

To clarify, these welfare rights should be granted to all children who have experienced war-related harm,50 and not only those with a Negative Moral Development claim, although it seems to me that children who were particularly harmed in respect to their moral development will require additional resources and opportunities for recovery, such as in the form of additional psychological and medical assistance, or additional programs within schools tailored to promote reintegration and socialization.51

On the other hand, the suggestion that children with a Positive Moral Development claim are entitled to opportunities to exercise their newfound capacities for moral powers and autonomy translates to granting them some agency rights, that is rights to act on one's judgment, and not only welfare ones. To illustrate, such children should be given opportunities to access: civil rights, such as rights to free information, free association, and protest, or freedom rights of religion and thought;52 rights to work,53 as in being allowed to decide whether to resume their education, pursue vocational training, or seek employment, since there might be cases of children who had to interrupt their studies and start working to help their families or ensure their own survival, but once the conflict is over have a preference to work rather than go back to school;54 rights to make medical decisions, that is having an authoritative say on whether to undergo or refuse a certain treatment and how to proceed in their physical (and mental) recovery; rights to emancipation, as there might be older children orphaned or separated from their families that cannot or would rather not reunite with them, nor would like to stay in state-care facilities, but have proven they know how to take care of themselves and live independently. So, in cases where the child has developed local autonomy with regard to some specific areas or values, and it does not go against the child's interest, the relevant agency rights should be granted.

Clearly, there will be situations where welfare and agency rights overlap, such as in the case of medical treatment: children should have a welfare right to have the treatment made available, but also an agency right to decide whether to refuse it. There will also be situations where the two sets of rights are in conflict, like in the education case. One might argue that it would go against the child's ‘best interest’ to have agency rights in respect to decisions that would go against their welfare or undermine their future interests, but the concept of ‘best interest’, as one of the underlying principles of the CRC, has been used to justify paternalistic treatment and the exclusion of children from decisions that affect them, because it is often assumed that adults know best what is in the interest of the child. Yet, if we believe that respect for autonomy, and not only interests-related concern, is the right attitude towards children's developing capacities, and if it is plausible that children with a Positive Moral Development claim are better situated to judge what their interests are, a more nuanced understanding of the concept would recognize that, in some cases, it is the autonomous exercise of agency, rather than constraining their choices, that is in children's best interest.

Finally, it might be observed that some agency rights discussed here, such as rights to information, association, protest, and thought, are already codified and granted by the CRC, which sets standards for almost every country in the world; or they are already considered the standard in some legislations, such as the right to work or make medical decisions. What I have explored here are the normative arguments that justify the claim to such rights in post-war contexts,55 identifying the distinctive losses as well as gains to children's fundamental moral interests, protected by rights, in the development of autonomy and moral powers, which adds to reasons for promoting and protecting welfare rights, as a matter of compensation, but also opens up space to reconsider the assignment of adult-like rights in the case of children with a Positive Moral Development claim.

4.3 Concerns

The argument advanced in this section relies on empirical premises which are clearly difficult to substantiate. What the exact impact of war-related experiences is on children's moral development, to what extent such impact can be monitored and assessed, and to what extent such impact is determined by external factors (like specific experiences) or internal factors (such us the inner dispositions or emotional and mental resources of children, which might determine whether they end up with a Negative or Positive Moral Development claim), are all difficult to settle questions which still lack definitive answers. It could also be the case that in different societies, with specific cultures and norms, and in different war contexts, the overall impact of war exposure on children's lives will vary significantly. My goal was to point to such difficulties and, given some of the empirical evidence available, reflect on the implications of such evidence by beginning to spell out a normative (and legal) framework in order to recommend and justify a more nuanced approach when dealing with children's reintegration into society. Of course, there are a few concerns regarding my proposal, both substantive and in terms of implementation, which I try to anticipate here.

On a more substantive level, one might resist the thought that children who have been through such traumatic experiences, and perhaps ‘grown up’ prematurely, should be treated as adults rather than allowed to be children ‘again’, without worrying about the responsibilities that inevitably come with having certain rights. However, childhood is a stage of life that cannot be lived again, and it seems plausible to me that some of these children will not be capable of, nor perhaps have an interest in, experiencing totally care-free childhoods, and might care to be treated more like adults. It would also seem consistent (and unproblematic) to, for example, assign the responsibility of paying taxes to those children who would exercise their right to work. Or to incur legal responsibilities if they enter into contracts or break the law. One might worry that giving agency rights to children increases the risks of manipulation or abuse by adults, for example by exploiting their labor. But as long as states ensure that an effective system of protections and assistance is in place, made available, and tailored to children's needs, that concern could be contained. It could also be objected that a better interpretation of agency rights for children implies rights to develop the exercise of agency under justified paternalistic limitations. This might be true for some children who are still developing some of their capacities, but not for others. Ultimately, this seems to be a matter of finding the right way to balance welfare interests and interests in autonomy, but states should do so from the perspective of children, which means giving children adequate opportunities to recognize both their strengths and limitations, to be well-informed of their options, and to be able to express their needs and preferences – something to be done together with children, and not as imposed by adults.

As a matter of implementation, it could be objected that my proposal has feasibility constraints, since it would be rather costly to both individually assess a child's overall level of development, and the development of specific capacities needed for specific domains of choices. It would also be rather difficult to find a mechanism that strikes the right balance in considering welfare and agency interests when there is tension between them. However, post-conflict settings usually already have in place mechanisms of assistance and recovery, and when those are made available to children, they would have the opportunity to interact with professional adults from medical, psychological, and legal fields, who could provide guidance and recommendations in navigating difficult choices and facilitating reintegration. Commissions of experts, familiar with the war context and its consequences, as well as the broader social and cultural setting, might also be suited, in consultation with younger generations, to establish adequate criteria or thresholds for the assignment of specific services and opportunities to be reflected in rights codifications. These are broad suggestions, but further theoretical and context-specific research could point to more feasible and convincing solutions to the issues raised here.

5 Conclusion

To conclude, when it is true that children develop moral powers and capacities for autonomy because of their war-related experiences, it seems right to acknowledge this, particularly in ways that grant the recognition and exercise of important agency rights; when, on the other hand, it is true that exposure to violence and harm hampers their moral development, then it seems a more appropriate response to ensure that children have access to rehabilitation and recovery opportunities, by granting extensive welfare and protection rights. These two responses are not at odds with each other, rather I think it likely that a combination of both would be the better response, but as there can be tensions between welfare and autonomy, and the correlative measures that advance and protect them, it is important to further reflect on potential mechanisms (and justifications) that help strike a correct balance. While some of the premises in my argument require difficult empirical questions about specific processes and contexts to be answered, the proposal advanced here is meant to suggest a normatively convincing framework to think about and deal with the also difficult questions of how we should treat children who have experienced war, once the conflict is over and societies have the opportunity to re-negotiate and transform their political and legal settings, all the while giving due weight to both children's important present and future interests and developing capacities.

Acknowledgement

I am particularly grateful to Matthew Clayton, Anca Gheaus, and Zoltan Miklosi for their invaluable feedback to my work and their encouragement in developing my ideas.

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Links:

Link1: ‘The June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising’, South African History Online (21 May 2013) <https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/june-16-soweto-youth-uprising> accessed 1 December 2022.

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1

I use the term ‘war’ and ‘conflict’ (with added qualifiers, such as ‘violent’ or ‘armed’) broadly and interchangeably, setting aside distinctions between just and unjust wars as well as classifications of war types and scales (such as intra- or inter- state conflicts, and terminology based on the number of deaths).

4

There is an established tradition in the literature to attribute certain rights, backed by International Law, to children who experience conflict. Children are defined by international laws as persons under eighteen years old, and we ought to protect children from war-related violence, and take any feasible measure to ensure that minors below fifteen years of age take no direct part in the hostilities, as affirmed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and strengthened by the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2002). The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions (1977), foundational to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), also stipulate that states shall take any feasible measure to protect children from assault, and shall avoid the direct involvement of children under fifteen years of age in the conflict, while granting a special protection status to captured children and to children under fifteen, and forbidding the recruitment of children under eighteen years of age. Whether at fifteen, eighteen, or somewhere in between, one can intend the under-fifteen threshold for recruitment to be the customary standard by law, which means that it should apply to state and non-state actors, whether or not they have ratified the relevant bodies of law. The Additional Protocols also forbid the death penalty for those under eighteen, which reflects the widely shared intuition that children who commit wrongful, criminal acts should be protected from the harshest forms of punishment. Another important source adding to the legal framework is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998), which, as an instrument of international criminal justice, codifies prohibited and restrained conduct during conflicts and upholds IHL standards. For example, it defines and limits conscription, recruitment, and the use of minors (under fifteen years of age), and condemns as war crimes deliberate attacks on educational and medical infrastructures.

5

It is true that the field of transitional justice has produced much reflection, in the past decades, on children and their rights in post-conflict transitions, but those have mostly focused on their role within justice-seeking and restorative mechanisms, reparations for harms, and the reintegration of child-soldiers and children directly involved with violence. See, for instance, Özerdem and Podder (2011); Parmar et al. (2010); Fisher (2013). While some of those reflections have emphasized long-term consequences for children, and sometimes discuss issues of economic justice, my impression is that they often fail to provide an adequate normative justification for their recommendations, as well as recommendations that go beyond the phase of transition itself. My aim is to suggest a framework that links normative claims and legal rights to protect and empower children's status in societies that are transitioning, but also once they have transitioned towards peace.

6

Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

7

Some indeed use the widespread intuition that children should indeed have rights to reject the ‘choice’ theory as an explanation for the function of rights.

9

Cowden (2012) illustrates the point by considering that it would be odd, for example, for a blind person to claim they have a right to illumination, simply because they would have no benefit or enjoyment from something they cannot access, even if it were made available to them.

12

I do not particularly sympathize with views that see children only for their potentiality for adulthood, as they fail to recognize that children have, albeit developing, morally relevant capacities (and interests) qua children.

13

Christman (2020). It should also be noted that under some accounts of autonomy, some external, enabling conditions for autonomy, such as social freedoms and substantive options for choice, are considered relevant.

17

As implied by the rights and principles formulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989); also see Lansdown (2005) and Lundy (2007).

22

Since an interest theory allows for the balancing of autonomy and welfare considerations, one might argue that it also allows paternalism when welfare is put at risk by autonomous choices. However, as agency interests grow with capacities, the point of a gradual approach within the interest theory is precisely to ensure a better respect of capacities for personal autonomy, locally and globally, once they develop. This means that paternalism towards children might be justified in fewer instances than it is usually thought to.

25

Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

30

Often, children involved with armed groups are abducted and forced to be under the effect of substances that are autonomy constraining. At the same time, they sometimes display capacities to make autonomous choices within a constraint set of options. See, for instance, Özerdem and Podder (2011); Fisher (2013).

31

I have in mind here examples of histories of violence and collective trauma generationally transmitted, such that children are socialized into resistance movements and expected to fulfil certain actual as well as symbolic roles, which they eventually identify with, such is the case of Palestinian children, whose involvement in the conflict against Israel goes way back before the Intifadas (Rosen 2005), but also cases of resistance movements against oppression and discrimination where youth played an important part, such as in South Africa. Link1.

32

See, for instance, Machel (1996); Kemper (2005).

36

See, for instance, Peto (2018).

37

I am grateful to Zoltan Miklosi for this point. See also Kemper (2005).

40

See, for instance, Clayton (2006).

43

While discussing the balancing of welfare and autonomy interests in the context of children's development, I maintained the view that respect for (developing) autonomy trumps concern for welfare, such that fewer instances of paternalism over children would be, in fact, justified. I also endorse Feinberg's view on children's right to an open future (2014), which might seem in conflict with what was claimed before; however, it seems to me that the balancing required in order to comply with a right to an open future is not a question of present autonomy vs future welfare, but rather one between future and present autonomy, such that instances of paternalism, when a child's present exercises of autonomy put at serious risk the enjoyment of more autonomy in the future, might be justified.

44

This is not to say that exposure to war is desirable just because it helps children advance their moral development. The process by which such outcomes are realized, particularly when it entails exposure to trauma and violence, is clearly not desirable, as it puts children at risk of harm or in fact harms them. Also, this is not to say that war experiences are necessary, nor the best way, to achieve such outcomes, but it seems plausible to say they would be more triggering for the development of certain capacities.

48

This is, in fact, always true and not unique to children who have experienced war; however, the gravity of the circumstances of war and the high stakes in the opportunity to rebuild society after war make this evaluation, I think, particularly urgent.

49

The idea here is that children are harmed when they do not have the opportunity to normally develop their moral powers and capacities for autonomy, which is part of what Dworkin (2013) would describe as living ‘well’.

50

Including welfare rights that are less directly connected with moral development, such as rights to sustenance, as they might have suffered from malnutrition or lack of supplies during the hostilities, and should now have the opportunity to have adequate nutrition; and rights to shelter, as their homes might have been destroyed or damaged during the hostilities.

51

There is an ample body of literature within transitional justice that discusses adequate conditions for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children (focusing often on child-soldiers), some of which I cite in this paper, such as: Fisher (2013); Kemper (2005); Özerdem and Podder (2011); Parmar et al. (2010).

52

I also think they should have some political rights, but I do not have the space to argue for this here.

53

See Parmar's chapter in Parmar et al. (2010) for an interesting discussion of economic justice for children in processes of transitional justice.

54

Concerns related to leaving children's future as open as possible, and concerns related to the idea that there would be something valuable missing in their lives if they did not complete at least the years of mandatory education, make we wary of the suggestion. On the other hand, a respect-based attitude for autonomy would recommend that, as long as the child proves to be capable of making such a choice for herself (which includes considering long-term consequences), and as long as she had the options explained and made available, she should be allowed to do so.

55

Meant not only for the transitional phase itself, but as setting standards for the younger generations affected by war.

Other documents

Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (International Committee of the Red Cross, 1977) <https://www.icrc.org/en/document/additional-protocols-geneva-conventions-1949-factsheet> accessed 1 December 2022.

Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations 1989) <https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf> accessed 1 December 2022.

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OHCHR 2002) <https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/optional-protocol-convention-rights-child-involvement-children> accessed 1 December 2022.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (The International Criminal Court Forum 1998) <https://iccforum.com/rome-statute> accessed 1 December 2022.

  • Archard, D. and MacLeod, C. M. (eds), The Moral and Political Status of Children (Oxford Academic 2002) <https://doi.org/10.1093/0199242682.001.0001> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baker, A. and Shalhoub-Kevorkian, N., ‘Effects of Political and Military Traumas on Children: The Palestinian Case’ (1999) 19 Clinical Psychology Review 93550 <https://doi.org/10.1016/s0272-7358(99)00004-5> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barber, B. K.Contrasting portraits of war: Youths’ varied experiences with political violence in Bosnia and Palestine’ (2008) 32 International Journal of Behavioral Development 298309 <https://doi.org/10.1177/0165025408090972> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bou-Habib, P. and Olsaretti, S, ‘Autonomy and Children’s Well-Being’ in Bagattini, A. and Macleod, C. (eds), The Nature of Children’s Well-Being: Theory and Practice (Springer 2015) 1533 <https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9252-3_2> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brennan, S.Children's Choices or Children's Interests: Which do their Rights Protect?’ in Archard, D. and MacLeod, C. M. (eds), The Moral and Political Status of Children (Oxford Academic 2002) 5369.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brennan, S., ‘The Goods of Childhood and Children’s Rights’ in Baylis, F. and McLeod, C. (eds), Family-Making (Oxford University Press 2014) 2946 <https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656066.003.0003> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brighouse, H., ‘How Should Children Be Heard?’ (2003) 45 Arizona Law Review 691711.

  • Brighouse, H.What Rights (if any) do Children Have?’ in Archard, D. and MacLeod, C. M. (eds), The Moral and Political Status of Children (Oxford Academic 2002) 3152.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Christman, J., ‘Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy’ in Zalta, E. N. (ed), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall edn, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University 2020) <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2020/entries/autonomy-moral> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Clayton, M., Justice and Legitimacy in Upbringing (Oxford University Press 2006) <https://doi.org/10.1093/0199268940.001.0001> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cowden, M., ‘Capacity, Claims and Children’s Rights’ (2012) 11 Contemporary Political Theory 36280.

  • Dworkin, R., Justice for Hedgehogs (Belknap Press 2013).

  • Elbedour, S., Baker, A. M. and Charlesworth, W. R., ‘The Impact of Political Violence on Moral Reasoning in Children’ (1997) 21 Child Abuse & Neglect 105366 <https://doi.org/10.1016/S0145-2134(97)00065-3> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Feinberg, J., ‘The Child’s Right to an Open Future’ in Engster, D. and Metz, T. (eds), Justice, Politics, and the Family (Routledge 2014).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fernando, C. and Ferrari, M. (eds), Handbook of Resilience in Children of War (Springer 2013) <https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6375-7> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Filipović, Z. and Challenger, M., Stolen Voices: Young People's War Diaries, from World War I to Iraq (Penguin Books 2006).

  • Fisher, K. J., Transitional Justice for Child Soldiers (Palgrave Macmillan 2013).

  • Greenbaum, C. W., Veerman, P. and Bacon-Shnoor, N. (eds), Protection of Children During Armed Political Conflict (Intersentia 2006).

  • Hall, J. and Ahmad, A., ‘Child Development and Resilience in War, Conflict and Displacement’, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2022) <https://www.sipri.org/commentary/topical-backgrounder/2022/child-development-and-resilience-war-conflict-and-displacement> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kemper, Y., Youth in War-to-Peace Transitions: Approaches of International Organizations (Report Nr. 10) (Berghof Foundation 2005) <https://berghof-foundation.org/library/youth-in-war-to-peace-transitions-approaches-of-international-organizations> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • La Follette, H., ‘Circumscribed Autonomy: Children, Care, and Custody’ in Narayan, U. and Bartkowiak, J. (eds), Having and Raising Children: Unconventional Families, Hard Choices, and the Social Good (Penn State Press 1999) 13752.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lansdown, G., ‘Can You Hear Me? The Right of Young Children to Participate in Decisions Affecting Them’ (2005) Bernard van Leer Foundation, Working Papers in Early Childhood Development, No. 36 <https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED522740> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lindbloom, L., ‘Childhood and the Metric of Justice’ in Gheaus, A., Calder, G. and de Wispelaere, J. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Childhood and Children (Routledge 2018) 31727.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lundy, L., ‘“Voice” Is Not Enough: Conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (2007) 33 British Educational Research Journal 92742 <https://doi.org/10.1080/01411920701657033> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Machel, G., Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children – Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (United Nations 1996) <https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/223213/files/A_51_306-EN.pdf?ln=en> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mullin, A., ‘Children, Autonomy, and Care’ (2007) 38 Journal of Social Philosophy 53653 <https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9833.2007.00397.x> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Özer, S., Oppedal, B., Şirin, S. and Ergün, G., ‘Children Facing War: Their Understandings of War and Peace’ (2018) 13 Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies 6071 <https://doi.org/10.1080/17450128.2017.1372652> accessed 1 December 2022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Özerdem, A. and Podder, S., Child Soldiers: From Recruitment to Reintegration (Palgrave Macmillan 2011).

  • Parmar, S., Roseman, M. J., Siegrist, S. and Sowa, Th. (eds), Children and Transitional Justice: Truth-Telling, Accountability and Reconciliation (Innocenti Publications series, Harvard University Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School 2010) <https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/587-children-and-transitional-justice-truth-telling-accountability-and-reconciliation.html/> accessed 1 December 2022.

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  • Peto, T., Children’s Rights: A Liberal Framework (University of Oxford 2018) <https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:2997256f-2d13-4764-8cdc-e76e35249019> accessed 1 December 2022.

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  • Rawls, J., A Theory of Justice (Harvard University Press–Belknap Press 1999) <https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvkjb25m> accessed 1 December 2022.

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  • Raz, J., ‘On the Nature of Rights’ (1984) 93 Mind 194214.

  • Rosen, D. M., Armies of the Young: Child Soldiers in War and Terrorism (Rutgers University Press 2005) <https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhz5h> accessed 1 December 2022.

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  • Siegrist, S., ‘Child Rights and Transitional Justice’ in Parmar, S., Roseman, M. J., Siegrist, S. and Sowa, Th. (eds), Children and Transitional Justice: Truth-telling, Accountability and Reconciliation (Innocenti Publications series, Harvard University Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School 2010) 130 <https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/587-children-and-transitional-justice-truth-telling-accountability-and-reconciliation.html/> accessed 1 December 2022.

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  • Slone, M. and Peer, A., ‘Children’s Reactions to War, Armed Conflict and Displacement: Resilience in a Social Climate of Support’ (2021) 23 Current Psychiatry Reports <https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-021-01283-3> accessed 1 December 2022.

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Senior editors

Editor-in-Chief: 

  • Éva JAKAB (Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Department of Civil Law and Roman Law, head of Doctoral School of Political Science and Law, Hungary)

Editors:

  • Fruzsina GÁRDOS-OROSZ (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Hungary; Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Law, Hungary)
  • Miklós KÖNCZÖL (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Hungary; Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Hungary)
  • Viktor LŐRINCZ (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Hungary)
  • Tamás HOFFMANN (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, HU; Corvinus University of Budapest, Institute of International, Political and Regional Studies / Department of International Relations, Hungary)
  • Eszter KOVÁCS SZITKAY (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, HUNGARY; Ludovika University of Public Service, Doctoral School of Law Enforcement, Hungary)

Editorial Board

  • Attila BADÓ (University of Szeged, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Hungary)
  • Mátyás BÓDIG (University of Aberdeen, King's College, School of Law, United Kingdom)
  • Zoltán CSEHI (Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Law, Hungary; Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Faculty of Law and Political Sciences, Hungary)
  • Péter CSERNE (University of Aberdeen, King's College, School of Law, United Kingdom)
  • Balázs GELLÉR (Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Law, Hungary)
  • András JAKAB (Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg, Faculty of Law, Business and Economics, Austria)
  • Miodrag JOVANOVIĆ (University of Belgrade, Faculty of Law, Serbia)
  • Miklós KIRÁLY (Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Law, Hungary)
  • György KISS (National University of Public Service, Faculty of Public Governance and International Studies, HUNGARY; University of Pécs, Faculty of Law, Hungary)
  • Jan KUDRNA (Charles University, Faculty of Law, Czech Republic)
  • Herbert KÜPPER (Institut für Ostrecht, DE; Andrássy Universität, Chair of European Public Law, Hungary)
  • Konrad LACHMAYER (Sigmund Freud University, Faculty of Law, Austria)
  • Andzrej Stanislaw MĄCZYŃSKI (Jagiellonian University, Faculty of Law and Administration, Poland)
  • Guido PFEIFER (Goethe University, Faculty of Law, Germany)
  • Miklós SZABÓ (University of Miskolc, Faculty of Law, Hungary)
  • Zoltán SZENTE (HUN-REN Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Legal Studies, Hungary)
  • G.J.J. Heerma VAN VOSS (Leiden University, Institute of Public Law; Labour Law and Social Security, Netherlands)
  • Bernd WAAS (Goethe University, Faculty of Law, Germany)
  • Fryderyk ZOLL (University of Osnabrück, European Legal Studies Institute, Germany)

Advisory Board

  • Péter ERDŐ
  • Gábor HAMZA
  • Attila HARMATHY
  • László KECSKÉS
  • Tibor KIRÁLY
  • László KORINEK
  • László SÓLYOM
  • Lajos VÉKÁS
  • Imre VÖRÖS

Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies
P.O. Box 25
HU–1250 Budapest,Hungary
Phone: (36 1) 355 7384
Fax. (36 1) 375 7858
E-mail: acta.juridica@tk.mta.hu

Indexing and Abstracting Services:

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2022  
Web of Science  
Total Cites
WoS
not indexed
Journal Impact Factor not indexed
Rank by Impact Factor

not indexed

Impact Factor
without
Journal Self Cites
not indexed
5 Year
Impact Factor
not indexed
Journal Citation Indicator not indexed
Rank by Journal Citation Indicator

not indexed

Scimago  
Scimago
H-index
4
Scimago
Journal Rank
0.129
Scimago Quartile Score

Law Q4

Scopus  
Scopus
Cite Score
0.3
Scopus
CIte Score Rank
Law 687/885 (22nd PCTL)
Scopus
SNIP
0.132

2021  
Web of Science  
Total Cites
WoS
not indexed
Journal Impact Factor not indexed
Rank by Impact Factor not indexed
Impact Factor
without
Journal Self Cites
not indexed
5 Year
Impact Factor
not indexed
Journal Citation Indicator not indexed
Rank by Journal Citation Indicator not indexed
Scimago  
Scimago
H-index
4
Scimago
Journal Rank
0,109
Scimago Quartile Score Law (Q4)
Scopus  
Scopus
Cite Score
0,4
Scopus
CIte Score Rank
Law 530/801 (Q3)
Scopus
SNIP
0,076

2020  
Scimago
H-index
3
Scimago
Journal Rank
0,158
Scimago
Quartile Score
Law Q3
Scopus
Cite Score
40/78=0,5
Scopus
Cite Score Rank
Law 447/722 (Q3)
Scopus
SNIP
0,202
Scopus
Cites
12
Scopus
Documents
0
Acceptance
Rate
84%

 

2019  
Scimago
H-index
2
Scimago
Journal Rank
0,128
Scimago
Quartile Score
Law Q3
Scopus
Cite Score
31/88=0,4
Scopus
Cite Score Rank
Law 480/685 (Q3)
Scopus
SNIP
0,247
Scopus
Cites
22
Scopus
Documents
2
Acceptance
Rate
8%

 

Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies
Publication Model Hybrid
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Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies
Language English
Size B5
Year of
Foundation
2016 (1959)
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
4
Founder Magyar Tudományos Akadémia  
Founder's
Address
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 2498-5473 (Print)
ISSN 2560-1067 (Online)