Using the Convention in practice: A view from the Bench


Thursday, 23rd September, 2021

3.00pm-4.00pm AEST

This event has concluded

This webinar is the ninth in a series which is developing greater knowledge and understanding of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It will explore the value of applying the CRC and other rights instruments, in litigation and decision-making in cases involving children and young people. It will draw on the direct experience of a Judge in Aotearoa New Zealand who refers to and employs the CRC, CRPD and UN General Comments in his decisions. Judge Tony Fitzgerald will reflect on the benefits of applying these instruments in achieving better outcomes for children and young people and what this means for children, litigators, the police, social services and others working with children.

Unlike Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand has legislated a requirement in 2019 that any court or other person exercising powers under the 1989 Oranga Tamariki Act must uphold and respect children’s and young people’s rights, including those rights set out in the CRC and the CRPD. This means that there is a legislative requirement to ensure that children’s and young people’s rights under CRC are considered in the exercise of decision-making. The lack of such legislation in other jurisdictions does not preclude the use of the CRC, CRPD, General Comments and other UN instruments in judicial decision-making, judgments and legal arguments.

NOTE: At least half an hour will be allocated for questions and answers, and comments


Judge Tony Fitzgerald is a New Zealand District Court Judge with a Youth Court designation and a Family Court warrant. Judge Fitzgerald has been incorporating articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in his judgements, taking to heart the demands placed on officers of the court by the 2019 legislation. He will refer to some of these judgements in his presentation, showing how the CRC and CRPD enhances the judicial process. In his talk he will touch on the challenge of engaging lawyers in using the CRC and other human rights instruments in their arguments in his Court as well as wider systemic issues.


Dr Noam Peleg, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law and Justice, UNSW, Book Review Editor, The International Journal of Children's Rights.

Associate Professor Faith Gordon, Deputy Associate Dean of Research, ANU College of Law, The Australian National University and Director of the International Youth Justice Network.

Links and resources

Transcript of presentation by Judge Tony Fitzgerald, New Zealand District Court Judge, at the 9th CRC Webinar, in conjunction with Youth Law Australia and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.

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