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date: 07 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The best interests of the child principle is considered a pillar of children’s rights law and, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), is to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children. Yet best interests is an elusive concept and principle that has no single authoritative definition or description. Internationally and domestically relevant in such diverse areas as family law, adoption, migration, and socioeconomic policymaking, the best interests principle requires flexibility and is best served by a case-by-case approach, as has been recognized by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the European Court of Human Rights. This chapter analyzes relevant international case law and suggests the use of a number of safeguards to prevent such requisite flexibility from presenting a danger of paternalism, bias, or misuse.

Keywords: best interests, children’s rights, family law, adoption, European Court of Human Rights, unaccompanied minors, parental responsibilities

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