Jan CM Willems (1952) studied philosophy (Florida, USA; 1971-1972), law (Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 1972-1979), and psychology (Antwerp, Belgium; 1992-1995). He holds a law degree from Radboud University (international law and diplomatic history; 1979), and a PhD degree from Maastricht University (children’s rights and child maltreatment; 1998).
From 1980-1981, he worked at the Department of Public Law of Tilburg University. In 1981, he started work on the Committee to found a new law faculty at Maastricht University. During the Faculty’s first two decades, he was teaching in the field of war and peace (history of international law, Hugo Grotius), and of racial discrimination (xenophobia and human rights). In the late eighties, he shifted his main field of research to the rights of women and the rights of the child in relation to child (sexual) abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Presently, in addition to teaching human rights and rights of the child, he is conducting research on the joint responsibility of the state, parents and society in the upbringing of (young) children, with a special focus on the rights of newborn persons. Between 2002 and 2009 he was the first Dutch Chair holder on the International Rights of the Child at VU University Amsterdam. His expertise within the field of children’s rights is transgenerational discrimination, or childism (denialism in relation to the failure of states to prevent ill-treatment of children at the hands of their parents or carers), and structural prevention of child maltreatment (integrated SMECC approach).
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