The event featured experts from across a range of practice areas who have been leading efforts to advocate for children in the courts and in the public sphere, where recent successes have highlighted the importance of creative strategies and sustained efforts. The day also featured the release of a new HRI report on access to education for undocumented migrant children in the United States – a project developed in partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission.

2016 Conference Program:

Welcoming Remarks


Andrew I. Schoenholtz: Professor from Practice & Director, Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute

Panel: Access to Education for Undocumented Children in the United States


Access to education for undocumented immigrant children in the United States implicates a number of obligations under both domestic and international law. In January, the Human Rights Institute, in partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission, sent a team to Texas and North Carolina to investigate barriers to enrollment through a series of interviews with families, teachers, school administrators, and government officials. The morning panel will present the findings of this research and highlight recommendations for local and national policy makers to address this critical challenge.

Zenande Booi, Caitlin Callahan, Caroline Kurtz, Genevieve Fugere, Mikaela Harris, Alexandra Hughes, Alexander Kramarczuk, Raimy Reyes, Sruti Swaminathan, Members of the 2015-2016 Human Rights Institute Fact Finding Project

Keynote Address


Dr. Susan Bissell, Director, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children 1:45 Coffee Break

Panel: International Norms and the Protection of Children through Legal and Policy Advocacy in the United States


Although it was highly active during the development of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – now the most widely ratified human rights treaty in existence – the United States is the only UN member state to have not ratified the CRC. At the same time, pressing human rights challenges involving children abound, and advocates and lawyers have continued to utilize both domestic and international law to protect children across a variety of practice areas.

Considerable academic attention has been devoted to whether the evolving US laws and jurisprudence comply with the obligations outlined in the CRC, particularly in the context of juvenile justice. At the same time, debate in the public and political spheres has been periodically sparked by disagreement over how human rights treaty obligations actually impact US domestic laws. Much less attention, however, has been devoted to the ways that lawyers and activists have continued to fight for the rights of children despite ongoing debates over the Convention. The purpose of the afternoon panel is to bring these advocates together for a discussion about how such human rights standards can be leveraged through litigation, policy advocacy, and human rights fact-finding to protect children in the context of juvenile justice, immigration, and child labor.

Wallace Mlyniec (Moderator), Lupo-Ricci Professor of Clinical Legal Studies & Senior Counsel, Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Clinic

Maria Woltjen, Director, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights Marsha Levick, Deputy Director and Senior Counsel, Juvenile Law Center

Amy Fettig, Senior Staff Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project

Margaret Wurth, Researcher, Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division 

Closing Remarks


Christine James-Brown, Steering Committee, Campaign for the U.S. Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child