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Children Deprived of Liberty: Learning from the UN Global Study

Despite the fact that the Convention of the Rights of the Child affirms that, in principle, children should not be detained and deprivation of liberty should be a measure of last resort, millions of children in the world are locked away.

To assess and address this situation, the United Nations appointed Prof. Manfred Nowak as Independent Expert to lead an in-depth Global Study on children deprived of liberty.

This MOOC stems from the UN Global Study and provides insights, learning and recommendations in this important area at the crossroad of children, violence, and human rights studies.


Course Outline

The course is articulated in four modules:

  • Module 1 focuses on the general framework of the Study and looks at legal standards, guiding principles, definitions, objectives and methodology. It also offers an overview of the history of the Global Study and its links with the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
  • Module 2 deals with the cross-cutting themes that have been identified in the Study: personal liberty, children’s participation, disability, gender and health.
  • Module 3 is dedicated to the six focus areas of the Study: administration of justice, children living in places of detention with their primary caregivers, migration-related detention, children deprived of liberty in institutions, in armed conflict and for national security reasons.
  • Module 4 looks at the making of the UN Global Study in practice and discusses challenges, opportunities, recommendations and the way forward.

Lecturers and Experts

The MOOC has been designed in close cooperation with the UN Global Study Team. The faculty includes, among others:


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course participants will have acquired:

  • Understanding of the process behind the UN Global Study;
  • Knowledge about international standards for the protection of the human rights of children deprived of liberty;
  • Awareness of data, reasons and root-causes in the area of deprivation of liberty for children;
  • Information on some contextual situations, examples, and practices from different regions of the world;
  • Understanding of challenges and limitations in the current systems;
  • The ability to identify some legal, political and social strategies to safeguard the human rights of children deprived of liberty;
  • Knowledge of recommendations to bring about change and improvements.





How do I enrol in the course?

In order to enrol, please follow the instructions on our “How to Enrol” webpage. This will then lead you to the OpenEdX course page. Once you are there, you can start the enrolment process by clicking the "enrol" button

Is there a selection procedure to participate in the course?

The course is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which means we do not select participants on any basis. Rather, we welcome anyone who is interested in learning more about the topic to enrol and participate for free.



I would like to know if the course is free or if some parts are to be paid

Our course is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which means all components are open and totally free for anyone.

Do I need to pay any fee to attend the course?

There are no registration or tuition fees.



Is the course accessible to persons with disabilities?

We want all participants in our courses to enjoy a great learning experience and we strive to always improve accessibility. Each week of the course includes one or two video lectures with accompanying transcripts and reading materials. The texts are in PDF format, work at low bandwidths, are printable and can be zoomed to the desired size. Some readings may include pages from accessible websites. This makes all of them accessible to those who use assistive technology software such as screen readers. Likewise, weekly discussions and module quizzes can be completed through our platform which is accessible, for example, to people who use speech input, keyboard accessible controls or text to speech tools. For more details please visit EdX Website Accessibility Policy.


Structure and content

Is there a schedule for the course or is it self-directed?

The course is self-paced so participants can study in their own time.

I have a commitment in week 2. Would it be possible to work on it the following weeks?

As the course is self-paced, the workload can be shifted from one week to the other. Even the quizzes can be taken in a one week span, so that every participant can adjust it to his/her personal commitments.


Quizzes are foreseen at regular intervals in order for participants to check their understanding and progress. They are based on 5 questions of different types (true/false; yes/no; multiple choice; multiple answer) and are available throughout the course.

Participants can have unlimited attempts and can see what answers they got wrong/right. However, for a more effective and satisfactory learning experience we warmly encourage everyone to take the quizzes after having prepared for them properly and not at random. Also, it is important to press the submit button in each question to make sure the answers are recorded in the progress chart.


Certificate of participation

What does it mean “Audit-only”? Will I get a certificate?

Auditors can complete any or all the parts of the course at their own pace, but will not receive a certificate. Participants who want proof of completion can simply print the progress chart that they will find in their course page.


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