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The Long Awaited: Past Futures of Children’s Rights

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image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

This paper is an invitation to re-think how we think about the future of children’s rights. Utopias, science fictions, and the trajectories of history are invoked in futurist imaginings. Utopian thinking across centuries has both marked and marred social interventions into the conduct of childhood. Visionaries from More to Comenius to H.G. Wells have to a greater or lesser extent focused on childhood as means to a utopian end. While utopianism has deeply harmed children, the Convention on the Rights of the Child is in some ways indebted to Wells’s imagined World State. The long history of childhood discloses intimations of rights millennia before rights existed. It also discloses how doing good for children often has gone terribly wrong due to failure of the imagination. Science fictions are rapidly becoming fact. Rights thinking has failed to keep pace with developments profoundly affecting children and the conduct of their childhood.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Law, University of Manitoba, Email:


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