Children and the Responsibility to Protect Project

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, Banksy


The now-iconic image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up on a beach in Turkey in September sparked a public outcry and turned the world’s attention to the forced migration crisis. The news of the denial of the family’s refugee visa application had an immediate impact on Canadian domestic politics prompting its politicians to speak about a global responsibility to protect children fleeing conflict zones. Yet, a few months later, following reports of widespread sexual assault incidents in Cologne on New Year’s eve, allegedly by migrants, Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine, published a cartoon showing Aylan as an adult migrant who turned out to be one of the attackers in Germany. In March 2016, two Syrian nationals were found guilty of human trafficking and the manslaughter of Aylan, his mother, his brother, and two other people in Turkey. Aylan’s story is a vivid reminder that states, societies and cultures are increasingly interconnected and interdependent.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) framework lays down a responsibility to protect populations from the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Children are at particular risk from these crimes. They represent some of the most marginalized categories of population during armed conflicts and complex emergencies, and are disproportionately affected by violence. Children drowning in the process of crossing the Mediterranean in search of refuge from wars, girls kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram, schools attacked in Pakistan, and young adolescents targeted during protests in the West Bank and Kashmir speak volumes about the vulnerabilities of children in time of conflict. And yet to date there has been little study of what R2P has to say about children. This project aims to rectify this by examining a range of questions related to the theme of children and R2P, including:

• How will R2P work in protecting children and preventing violence against them?
• How might R2P standards take into account children’s resilience?
• What is the role of children and young people in creating a world in which mass atrocities are no longer seen as viable means to achieve political ends?
• How do national, regional, and international contexts of protecting children and preventing violence against them interact with the discourse of R2P?
• Are there significant differences in dealing with children’s issues, from institutional, societal, and cultural perspectives, that have to be taken into account for the R2P framework to be effective?
• To what extent is the forced migration debate relevant to R2P and the construction of childhood?
• In what ways can local and global civil society support child-centred peace and justice agenda as part of the process of developing an ethical approach to R2P?
• What are the limits of contemporary application of R2P in protecting children?


This project brings together 20 scholars from around the world to study the theme of Children and R2P, from universities and institutions in Australia, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, and the US.


A special double issue of Global Responsibility to Protect will be published in 2018.


This project brings together 20 scholars from around the world to study the theme of Children and R2P, from universities and institutions in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, and the US.

J. Marshall Beier

Marshall Beier is Professor in the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. Established and ongoing areas of inquiry deal with issues of indigeneity in advanced colonial contexts and with child/youth rights and political subjecthood across various settings. Marshall is carrying out a multi-year project on the militarisation of childhood as well as child/youth rights and social/political participation. Among the outputs of this work are an edited volume (recently reprinted in a paperback edition) and a special issue of the journal, Critical Studies on Security, as well as other contributions dealing with impediments to children’s exercise of rights in both local contexts and in connection with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Related research considers issues of child/youth political subjecthood with particular emphasis on questions of responsibility pertaining to trauma visited on young people both within and beyond zones of conflict.

Myriam Denov

Myriam Denov holds the Canada Research Chair in Youth, Gender and Armed Conflict in the Centre for Research on Children and Families at McGill University, Montreal. Her research and teaching interests lie in the areas of children and youth in adversity, and international child protection, with an emphasis on war and political violence, children in armed conflict, and gender-based violence. A specialist in participatory research, she has worked with war-affected children in Asia, Africa, and the Americas and has conducted research on the reintegration experiences of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Colombia, and war-affected youth living in Canada. Denov has presented expert evidence in court on child soldiers, and has advised government and non-governmental organisations on children in armed conflict, and girls in armed groups. She has authored five books, including Child Soldiers: Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (Cambridge University Press) and Children’s Rights and International Development (Palgrave Macmillan). In 2014, she was awarded a Trudeau Fellowship to address the realities of children born of wartime sexual violence in Northern Uganda.

Erin Glanville

Erin Glanville is a Visiting Scholar at the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson joined the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University after completing his graduate studies in resource and environmental management at Dalhousie University. He has a diverse background including a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, experience as a research assistant in Mongolia and at Dalhousie and MIT, and volunteer leadership positions at the Canadian Fair Trade Network and Engineers Without Borders Canada.

Katrina Lee-Koo

Katrina Lee-Koo is Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Monash Gender, Peace & Security at Monash University, Melbourne. She teaches and researches in the field of security studies. She looks particularly at critical security studies, and the protection and participation of civilians in conflict affected areas and peace processes (focused upon women and children). Katrina is a member of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Academic Collective and the WPS Civil Society Coalition. For the past three years she has been involved in the organisation of the Annual Civil Society Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security – a project which brings together senior members of government and civil society to advance Australia’s implementation of the WPS agenda.

Ryoko Nakano

Ryoko Nakano is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, Institute of Human and Social Sciences, Kanazawa University, Japan.

Timea Spitka

Timea Spitka is the Sophie Davis Postdoctoral Fellow in International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Jana Tabak

Jana Tabak ia a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of International Relations at PUC-Rio, Brazil. Her doctoral research focused on the participation of children in international armed conflicts.

Shelly Whitman

Dr Shelly Whitman is Executive Director of The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative. Prior to this, she had an academic career teaching in International Development Studies and Political Science at Dalhousie University, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Botswana. Her research interests have been broadly focused on issues related to peace, development and human security. She has published widely on topics from sexual violence as a weapon of war, to small arms and light weapons, the international criminal court and various perspectives on preventing the use of children in armed conflict. From 2000 to 2002, Shelly worked as Head of Research on the inter-Congolese dialogue, under the direction of Former Botswana President, Sir Ketumile Masire. Previous to this post, she was a Research Consultant at UNICEF, NY and worked under the direction of Ambassador Stephen Lewis on the OAU Rwanda Genocide Report. Shelly introduced a course on Children and Armed Conflict at Dalhousie University in 2009 and is now working towards the introduction of a Certificate Programme on Children and Armed Conflict. In 2014 she was awarded the Canadian Progress Club Women of Excellence Award for her work with the Dallaire Initiative.

Luke Glanville

Dr Luke Glanville

Luke Glanville is a Fellow in the Department of International Relations. He graduated with his PhD in Political Science at the University of Queensland in 2010 and then worked at Griffith...

Dr Jochen Prantl

Jochen Prantl is an Associate Professor in the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and Deputy Director (International Engagement) for the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. His research...

Bina D'Costa

Dr Bina D'Costa

Bina D’Costa focuses on human rights, justice and security issues in South Asia. At the ANU she was previously a Fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Justice at RegNet (2008-10)...

Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect

Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: A New History

Luke Glanville, Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: A New History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.

Children and Violence: Politics of Conflict in South Asia

Children and Violence: Politics of Conflict in South Asia

Bina D’Costa, ed., Children and Violence: Politics of Conflict in South Asia, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press India, 2016.

Children and Global Conflict

Children and Global Conflict

Kim Huynh, Bina D’Costa and Katrina Lee-Koo, Children and Global Conflict, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Funding for Project

Dr Luke Glanville and Dr Bina d’Costa from the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs have secured funding through the Asia-Pacific Innovation Program (APIP) to develop new research on “Children and the Responsibility to Protect” – a framework which will be used to protect populations (particularly children) from the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. See the full story.


The Children and the Responsibility to Protect Project is located in the Hedley Bull Building situated on the corner of Liversidge St and Garran Road on the ANU campus.

Postal address

Department of International Relations
Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
Hedley Bull Building
130 Garran Road
The Australian National University Acton ACT 2601 Australia

Telephone and fax

T +61 (0)2 6125 4451
F +61 (0)2 6125 8010


Updated:  23 March 2016/Responsible Officer:  Su-Ann Tan/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team