Unaccompanied Minors: Law, Policy and Practice

From 17th May 2017 to 23rd June 2017
Time: Various
Location: Edinburgh

Edinburgh Napier University (Law) are running three free workshops looking at Unaccompanied Minors: Law, Policy and Practice. The series is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The first workshop on Reception of unaccompanied minors is on Wednesday 17 May 2017 at the Rivers Suite, Craiglockhart Campus, Colinton Road, Edinburgh.


Keynote Speaker: Professor Ravi Kohli

Professor Kohli is Professor of Child Welfare with a strong background in Social Work with asylum seeking and refugee children and their families. His research includes work on the resettlement of unaccompanied asylum seeking young people, including those in foster care as well as issues of credibility in asylum claims by children. Working with Professor Heaven Crawley he conducted a 30-month evaluation of the Scottish Guardianship Service Pilot, run by the Aberlour Trust and Scottish Refugee Council, funded by Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

Other confirmed speakers are:

  • Dr Sarah Craig (Glasgow School of Law),
  • Dr Mike Slaven (College of Social and Political Science, Edinburgh)
  • Dr Elena Gualco (University of Bedford)
  • Catriona MacSween (Scottish Guardianship Scheme/Aberlour Trust).

The workshops are free of charge and open to all with an interest in unaccompanied minors and are designed to be interactive. A buffet lunch will be provided.


Further Information on the Workshop Series

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are a vulnerable group: they live not only in a difficult situation as minor refugees staying in another country, but face other risks due to the absence of their parents, such as traumatic experiences, exploitation or abuse. Globally, according to UNHCR children make up 50% of the refugee community and up to 15 % are either unaccompanied or separated from their families.

Receiving states, such as the UK, typically view these children from a legal perspective as 'refugees' and 'migrants', rather than as 'children'. It is predominantly this legal perspective that forms the basis on which the receiving state care system is built. This legalistic perspective contrasts sharply with the focus on the best interests of the child set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. The focus on the best interests of the child is holistic in its approach including within it the wider psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing of the child, an approach reflected in other articles of the Convention, such as Article 6 and, in particular, Article 22. This support is important where the child has suffered trauma and may present a risk to themselves and others as a consequence.

Recent research suggests that whilst various international NGOs and national agencies focus on seeking to provide appropriate emotional and psychological support and care, they fail to address those priorities articulated by the children themselves, for example, access to citizenship in the receiving state.

These concerns will be explored in a series of workshops drawing together policy makers, lawyers, social workers, psychologists and educationalists to explore these concerns in relation to unaccompanied child refugees in Scotland to identify durable solutions.

Future workshops in the series are:

Workshop 2 - Protection Tuesday 6 June 2017
Venue: Scott Room, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, George Street, Edinburgh.

Workshop 3 - Integration Friday 23 June 2017
Venue: The Rivers Suite, Craiglockhart Campus, Colinton Road, Edinburgh.

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