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Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson
Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson
In this introductory chapter we identify themes that will be carried throughout the book. We begin in section 2 with a discussion of the human rights challenges presented by children on the move, posing questions that our contributors will address as they build on the themes we identify. This is followed by an examination of obstacles that have been created to recognizing child migrants as rights bearers. After setting out in section 4 a brief outline of the book’s structure, the chapter concludes with some comments on global initiatives that have been made to address the challenges associated with mass migration, on the one hand, and of forced movement of refugees, on the other. We will argue that the uncertainty and risks facing the world in the new millennium certainly constitute problems – but they also offer opportunities for positive change. Four foundational principles inform our discussion of how states should respond to children on the move. The first is that childhood is unique in that the status of being a child is transitory and (absent disabilities) the capacities of children evolve as children age. Second, it follows that children require special protection and assistance, most particularly in their younger and adolescent years, if they are to develop and thrive. The third point is that procedural accommodations should be made for children in recognition of the physical and cognitive stages of their development. The fourth and final principle both flows from and unites the three that precede it. It is that the treatment of child migrants matters because it has long-term consequences – both for the children themselves and for their host communities.