Jacqueline Bhabha Photo

Jacqueline Bhabha

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law, HLS


A growing number of children and adolescents around the world are subjected to violence, exploitation and other forms of abuse. These harms persist despite the proliferation of international norms and structures designed to protect this population and promote its wellbeing. In many cases global transformations exacerbate rather than reduce the risks of abuse and increase the protection challenges these risks give rise to. Though each category of child protection deficit has its own characteristics and its attendant normative framework, they all share common and definable elements. An investigation of the human rights dilemmas that arise in child protection on a global scale presents, in a microcosm, a perspective on the social and political dynamics affecting some of the world's most vulnerable populations. One focus of the course is the child protection issues themselves, their genesis and impact. The other is the human rights strategies and dilemmas relevant to those (at both the individual and societal levels) charged with responding to rights violations affecting children and fulfilling public child protection obligations. In the midst of historic technological advances and significant progress in the realm of international human rights, the strategic choices and responsibilities facing leaders and others concerned with child protection are of increasing complexity and scope. A key concern of the course will be to integrate legal approaches with those developed in the health and social sciences. A recurring theme will be the evaluation of how international obligations map onto policy outcomes and how human rights mechanisms affect problems facing vulnerable children on the ground. The course will begin with a brief review of the theory and literature relating to child protection and international human rights. It will proceed with an in-depth discussion of case studies covering central aspects of child protection-child labor, child trafficking, child soldiering and child persecution. Analytic points will be derived from an investigation of specific problems, the legal frameworks relating to them, and the solutions that have been advanced to address them.  Practitioners, policy makers and civil society leaders involved in child protection will join classes as guests. 

Also offered by the School of Public Health as GHP 553. Please note, this is a jointly offered course hosted by another Harvard school and, accordingly, students must adhere to the academic and attendance policies of that school.