April 1, 2011
ATLANTA -- Professor Jonathan Todres has been invited to speak on children’s rights issues at several recent conferences on responses to natural disasters, including at Emory University School of Law, St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, and Georgia State University. He also presented his research on children’s rights in post-disaster settings at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in San Francisco in January.
"In post-disaster settings, nearly all rights children have are in jeopardy. Protecting children under these circumstances, when infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, is particularly challenging," Todres explained. "But this is precisely when human rights law has the greatest potential value. It’s meant to ensure rights and well-being of children when they most need protection."
In his talks, Todres focused on health and education rights as well as the right to a safe and secure environment. He explained that although reconstruction efforts can take years in the best-case scenarios, even short interruptions in access to health care and education can have lifelong consequences. "The time-sensitive nature of children’s rights requires that they be given much greater priority," said Todres. He also highlighted the security issues in camps for internally displaced persons, noting that girls in particular are at heightened risk of sexual violence even in their day-to-day activities such as when walking to latrines or simply staying in their tents to care for younger siblings.
Todres commended the organizers of each of these recent conferences for bringing together scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines. "Government entities, researchers, and practitioners need to partner with one another," said Todres. "A comprehensive response that draws on everyone’s skills and expertise is the only way we will successfully tackle such extraordinary challenges."