Call for Abstracts: International Conference on Realising Children’s Development Rights in De Facto States



The Children’s Rights Research project, in collaboration with the Maastricht Centre for Human Rights, is organising an international conference on the rights of children in de facto states. The conference will be held in two stages. An online event will be held on 28 October 2023, followed by an in-person event on 17-18 January 2024 in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus*. The online event will be completely child-led and provide input for the in-person event. The in-person event will be led by academics, humanitarians and activists, based on the input provided by children during the online event. 

The  Children’s Rights Convention recognises “the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” and the Sustainable Development Goals are supposed to “leave no one behind”. However, despite this, one group of children have remained largely invisible to the international community, namely: children living in de facto states. Among the most vulnerable groups in the world, children living in de facto states receive little (if any) attention in international bi-lateral and multilateral fora, because they fall beyond the state-centric structure of the international community. Unfortunately, they generally do not fare any better in academic research. Since the goal of the UN is to provide access to justice for all, and to build effective and inclusive institutions at all levels, these children should not be left behind.

The main aim of this conference is to explore ways to ensure equal access to development rights for all children, including those living in de facto states. This child-led conference uses an adapted version of the Child Participation Model developed by the Children’s Rights Department of the Global Campus of Human Rights and used during the Global Campus International Conference 2022: Mental Health Nepal 2022. Building and extending on this model, this conference has been designed to maximise meaningful child participation and engage academics, humanitarians and activists working on children’s rights and/or on de facto states. This participation will be brought together with the input of academics, humanitarians, activists and others. The main output of the conference will be an agenda for action centred on how to better protect and realise the rights of children living in de facto states in the future.

The conference programme in which speakers are invited to participate takes place in two parts:

  • Part 1: 28 October 2023 (online) - This online event will be led by children. Speakers are required to attend, but do not present.
  • Part 2: 17-18 January 2024 (in-person) - A follow-up two-day in-person event in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus*, including presentations by academics, humanitarians and activists working on children’s rights and/or de facto states, as well as the presentation of the final report following the conclusion of the earlier discussions with the child participants. On the second day there will be a plenary workshop-session to develop a shared preliminary answer and agenda for action.

Invitation to Speakers

The organisers warmly invite applications from potential speakers for the International Conference on Children’s Development Rights in De Facto States. Please note that we are looking for a mix of speakers, from different countries and types of professional background.

We will consider abstracts in English on all subjects relating to the theme of the conference, using any methodology/ies. While we welcome abstracts on all kinds of related topics, the following list of themes/topics serves as an inspiration:

  • The situation of children in a specific de facto state (e.g. “education in Somaliland”);
  • The effects of conflict and political upheaval on children’s development rights;
  • Human rights duty bearers in relation to children in de facto states;
  • Your (organisation's) experience in working on human rights in, or with, de facto states;
  • Fragmentation and the realisation of children’s rights;
  • The United Nations, regional regulatory bodies (e.g. African Union), and human rights in de facto states;
  • Normative rules and children’s rights in de facto states, in law and/or other normative orders.

Abstracts of between 250 (min.) and 500 (max.) words can be submitted through this online form before 23h59 CEST on 19 July 2023. No specific content or format is expected, however, for academic applications we would ask the author to briefly describe the methodology used in the study. Propositions will be anonymously assessed by the organisers and selected on the basis of the quality of abstracts and the fit with the programme. Successful applicants will be notified in August 2023 and will be expected to present their papers during the in-person conference on 17-18 January 2024, as well as to attend the online conference on 28 October 2023. 

Costs and Financial Support

The registration fee for the International Conference on Realising Children’s Development Rights in De Facto States is 300 EUR (for scholarship options, see below). This fee covers attendance at the online event in October 2023, and the in-person event in Northern Cyprus in January 2024. It includes coffee and lunch for two days and dinner on the first day of the in-person event. The fee does not include travel, accommodation, and  visa costs. It also does not include breakfast on both days or dinner on day two of the event. 

We offer the possibility for financial support to a limited number of persons. There are two categories available:

  • Category 1, light sponsorship: Waiver of the conference fee and dinner costs on the first day of the event in January 2024.
  • Category 2, full sponsorship: Waiver of the conference fee, cover of travel costs, accommodation costs, visa fees and dinner, lunch and breakfast for three days at the in-person event in January 2024.

To apply for sponsorship click on this link. Please note that, although we ask you to apply for a scholarship simultaneously with the submission of your abstract/expression of interest, to be eligible for sponsorship your abstract/expression of interest must be accepted. Additionally, sponsorship applicants must submit a brief motivation letter (max 300 words), CV (1-2 pages) and a budget plan detailing the costs for their attendance. Applying for a sponsorship does not guarantee you will receive one.

If you have any further questions and/or remarks please contact our team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To know more about our work, please visit our website:


*Please note that the in-person conference takes part in Famagusta, which is a city in northern Cyprus. The location is chosen for its relation to the topic of the conference, as well as its accessibililty for attendees visiting from de facto states and other non-EU states.

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