Transforming Children’s Rights into Real Freedom: A Dialogue Between Children’s Rights and the Capability Approach from a Life Cycle Perspective

  • Mario BiggeriEmail author
  • Ravi Karkara
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 8)


This chapter has two main aims. The first is to explore the relationships and synergies between the capability approach (CA) and the human rights approach (HRA) in the case of children. The second is to investigate if it is possible to analyse and to translate into practice this relationship using equity, participatory and life cycle perspectives.

The chapter finds relevant links and synergies between HRA and the CA. These two opportunity oriented approaches, although different, dialogue and complement each other. In particular the HRA can call attention to the child deprivations in the ‘process freedom’, while the CA can concentrate on their causes and assessment. These potential positive synergies between rights and capabilities reveal also some interesting policy implications.


Capability Approach Life Cycle Approach Basic Capability Life Cycle Perspective Human Right 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter is the fruit of an encouraging and ongoing debate with several scholars. During this period we have been privileged to receive comments and suggestions from a large number of people, all of which have been very useful to us. In particular, we would like to thank: Caterina Arciprete, Jerome Ballet, Nicolò Bellanca, Sara Bonfanti, Sandra Boni, Jean-Michel Bonvin, Enrica Chiappero-Martinetti, Federico Ciani, David A. Clark, Flavio Comim, Michela Da Rodda, Francesca D’Erasmo, Alex Apsan Frediani, Cristina Devecchi, Diego Di Masi, Maria Laura Di Tommaso, Jean-Luc Dubois, Andrea Ferrannini, Alex A. Frediani, Des Gasper, Caroline Hart, Vittorio Iervese, Leonardo Menchini, Ayacx Mercedes, Giuliana Parodi, Altair Rodriguez, Marina Santi, Daniel Stoecklin, Lorella Terzi, Elaine Unterhalter, Polly Vizard and Melanie Walker. Furthermore, organisers of the workshops within the Thematic group on Children Capabilities of the Human Development and Capability Association are thankfully acknowledged.

We have benefited of comments and suggestions by the participants of two relevant conferences on these issues where we both were invited as keynote speakers: the International Conference on “Human Development and Human Rights: Two decades of advancement, What’s next for Children and youth? Agency and participation for enhancing equity”, organised jointly by UNICEF and UNDP at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 27–29th October 2011 and the Scientific Meeting on “Children rights and children capability approach: standpoints and prospects” at IUKB – Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch, Sion, Switzerland 5–6th July 2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and ManagementUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Youth (Global), United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Youth and Livelihoods, Urban Economy BranchUN-HABITATNew YorkUSA

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