Protecting the rights of the child

Languages and humanities
The work of the Thomas Coram Research Unit is vital to understanding the dangers that children continue to face in 2015. Professor Margaret O’Brien explains.


In 1741, Captain Thomas Coram, the great philanthropist who gave his name to UCL’s Institute of Education’s Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), established the Foundling Hospital in the fields of Bloomsbury for the “education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children”.

Unlike his contemporaries, Thomas Coram could not walk past babies dying in the gutters and rotting in the dung-heaps of Georgian London. In many countries across the world, the quality of life for children has improved immeasurably in the 273 years since. 

At the TCRU, we celebrated our 40th anniversary last year, and in November we also marked the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on November 20, 1989, and it remains the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The UN Convention is a strong reminder that we are all part of a global community.

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