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2018 juni

Marieke Hopman


18 juni 2018

On making choices and the continuation of the project

18 juni 2018 | By | One Comment

Dear all,

As I wrote to you in March, since I am in the last phase of the PhD research, the time has come to look beyond and see what I can do next. It is a bit of a two-faced experience; on the one hand, I want to focus all my attention to reporting on and bringing attention to the TRNC case study, and to finishing the PhD book. On the other hand, I have to think about my next project, for otherwise I am going to find myself without work once the PhD is finished.

With Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Jaha Dukureh, discussing Female Genital Mutiliation

With Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Jaha Dukureh, discussing Female Genital Mutiliation

It is not so much about me having a job as it is about being able to continue my research on children’s rights. I honestly feel like I have only just started, and there is a sound basis yet also so much more work still needs to be done! However, to be able to do so, I need at least a basic income and some kind of institutional support. Basically: I need a contract.

In March I told you I’d applied for a job at the law faculty where I now work, for a position of empirical legal researcher, which I thought could be a good way in. Unfortunately, I was not even invited for an interview. So now what? Although I know I have some research money left and I also have some opportunities to raise more, I just don’t know exactly what shape or form to give it all. I started looking for external opportunities (mostly job openings at other universities). At the same time, I worked together with my intern on processing the data from the TRNC case, we wrote a recommendation (UPR) to the UN Human Rights Committee which we are hoping to submit together with two NGOs, and I finished the three courses/projects I was teaching.

Did a nice 25min interview about my research on children's rights, on national radio (Radio 1)!

Did a nice 25min interview about my research on children’s rights, on national radio (Radio 1)!

Then two new opportunities presented itself; on the one hand, I was asked to teach certain courses next semester for my department. As part of this would fall outside of my current contract, they would have to give me one. It’s not yet clear what shape or form this would take – a teaching-only contract was an option, but I refused that because I want to do research. Then, secondly, I was approached by some other colleagues about a research proposal; apparently, Maastricht University has the opportunity to apply for funding with NWO on a program that is specifically meant for interdisciplinary research on SDGs (“Sustainable Development Goals”). First I was asked if I wanted to join as a post-doc researcher, to spend my time researching legal education in different low- and middle income countries. I said no, because I want to study children’s rights. Later, they came back to me and offered the opportunity to write a proposal myself. What a chance!!!

I proposed the subject of “children’s rights in unrecognized states” and the team agreed. So I decided to throw around my whole schedule – because the deadline for the proposal is in September -, to delay the PhD by a month and spend a month on this proposal. The best thing about this call is that not only does it give a chance to do this kind of valuable research, but it also gives a budget for implementation of the research results!! The worst thing about it is that even if you spend a lot of time writing a good proposal, it might get turned down.

There is little information about children's rights in unrecognized states

There is little information about children’s rights in unrecognized states

In this proposal, I have to decide how much time I’d like to spend on the project and how much time I might want to spend on teaching, management, communication (writing these blogs, for example). It is all quite overwhelming and to be honest, at the moment I don’t really know which way to go from here. This also because many things are uncertain, and I haven’t even given you the full picture yet – I am also written into another research proposal and may get a post-doc position there, I am also asked to teach several courses, some of which directly, some “maybe”, and this has to be decided around now, the university board is also considering a proposal which I wrote with a team for a Platform which, if granted, I would manage… -.

Today I went for a long bike ride, to calm down and clear my mind. I did not find an answer yet, but what I did realize is this: any decision I take has to be guided by my mission: to support children all over the world. More specifically: to use research to understand why children are made to suffer at the hands of authorities (operationalized as “situations where children’s rights are violated”) and what can be done about this; and: through research, to make the voices heard of the most invisible, marginalized children in this world.

Last meeting with "my" team of MA students  (I mentored them) who researched the child's right to education in the NL for children without legal residence permit, before they present their report to NGO Defence for Children..

Last meeting with “my” team of MA students (I mentored them) who researched the child’s right to education in the NL for children without legal residence permit. Next month they will present their report to NGO Defence for Children.

My mission is not to please my bosses. It is not to be liked by colleagues. It is not to bring money to the institution. It is not to become a successful academic (at least not in the classical sense). It is not to earn a lot of money. These may be side-effects, and maybe pleasant side-effects, but they are not the goal. I want to make a change. I want to use research to understand why children are made to suffer at the hands of authorities. And it should be that mission guiding me in the tricky choices that I will have to make over the coming months.

Ambra Borne


13 juni 2018

Derde case study: het recht op nationaliteit in Turkse Republic Noord Cyprus (TRNC)

13 juni 2018 | By | No Comments

Dear All,

After much secrecy and anticipation, we are very excited to share with you a case study that we have been working on for almost a year now; the child’s right to a nationality in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)!

Although extremely interesting, this case is far from simple and so I, Ambra, Marieke’s intern, will be walking you through the journey of this case and research project. With a team of 5 students and Marieke, this project has taken on three trips to the TRNC, a fundraising campaign, an upcoming report (and more – cannot disclose them yet!) since July 2017. Finally, we can share it with you!

Ali (one of our translators), Marieke and I

Ali (one of our translators), Marieke and I

The TRNC is an unrecognised state situated in the northern part of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Due to being only recognised by Turkey, the children’s right situation is unique, especially when it comes to the child’s right to nationality. How are children’s right protected? What does having TRNC nationality entail? What does the child’s right to nationality mean in the TRNC?

Before any of these questions can be answered, it is essential to glance at the history of the island of Cyprus. Although Cyprus has experienced many different authorities and sovereignties throughout centuries (Venetians, Ottoman, British), it has been home to two main populations: the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Soon after its independence in 1960, and the creation of the Republic of Cyprus, tensions and unrest emerged between these populations which would eventually cause the island to be politically altered to this day.

With increasing nationalism and varying political ideologies, violence erupted between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities which resulted in a military intervention from Turkey in 1974. Claiming to be for the protection of the Turkish Cypriots, this involvement has been, and continues to be, highly debated among the international community. Nevertheless, the TRNC state was declared itself as an independent state in 1983.

The divided island of Cyprus

The divided island of Cyprus

For the majority of the last 40 years, the Turkish Cypriot community has been isolated from the world due to a heavy economic embargo and only being recognised by Turkey. Peace negotiations have been attempted, and failed, many times over all these years. In 2003, the border between the TRNC and the Republic of Cyprus opened for the first time. The following year, the Republic of Cyprus became a member of the EU. This is still the current situation of the TRNC. There is still an economic embargo, the territory of northern Cyprus is still claimed by the Republic of Cyprus, the TRNC is still unrecognised.

Like many other unrecognised states, the discussion revolving around the TRNC is heavily politically charged and sensitive for many. As consequence, we decided to announce this research project once all the data had been collected, which is now! We (myself, Marieke and four other students) spent a total of nine weeks in the TRNC interviewing all different kinds of people; children, parents, teachers, politicians, international students, journalists, housewives, etc. all to answer the question: what is the meaning of the child’s right to a nationality in the TRNC?

This case study has included many ups and doThe divided island of Cypruswns, challenges and opportunities, breakthroughs and setbacks. But, ultimately, it has provided an insight into children’s rights in an unrecognised state. More soon!

Crossing the border from the Republic of Cyprus to the TRNC

Crossing the border from the Republic of Cyprus to the TRNC


Two members of the team after a hard day at work!

Two members of the team after a hard day at work!