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Human Rights

The best interests of the child – A dialogue between theory and practice

The best interests of the child – A dialogue between theory and practice (2016)

ISBN 978-92-871-8252-4
Type of document : Book
Format : Paper
Size : 16 x 24 cm
Language : English
Number of pages : 160

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The best interests of the child – A dialogue between theory and practice

The best interests of the child – A dialogue between theory and practice

What does the concept of the best interests of the child mean in practice? How should it be interpreted and applied? This publication sheds lights on different aspects of this concept.

The concept of the best interests of child, as stated in Article 3.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, has caused many controversies and debates amongst policy makers, experts and practitioners. Although central to a child’s full enjoyment of his or her rights, the meaning of the concept in practice and how it should be interpreted and applied, is still part of today’s debate. The Belgian Authorities and the Council of Europe organised on 9 and 10 December 2014 a conference on “The best interests of the child - A dialogue between theory and practice” to provide an opportunity for actors involved in decisions that have an impact on children’s lives to share knowledge and enhance the understanding of the concept of the child’s best interest.

Featuring in this publication are the 21 different viewpoints presented during the conference on the concept of the best interests of the child. They are divided into four chapters namely those presenting general reflections of the concept; assessing, determining and monitoring best interests; using the concept in different environments; and understanding the concept in family affairs.

All viewpoints agree on the fact that there is no comprehensive definition of the concept, and that its vagueness has resulted in practical difficulties for those trying to apply it. Some suggest that the best interest should therefore only be used when necessary, appropriate and feasible for advancing children’s rights, whereas others see the flexibility of the concept as its strong point. Through their different interpretations and analysis, this publication offers a solid contribution to the overall understanding of the concept of the best interests of child, necessary to improving and safeguarding children’s rights overall.

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What does the concept of the best interests of the child mean in practice? How should it be interpreted and applied? This publication sheds lights on different aspects of this concept.

The concept of the best interests of child, as stated in Article 3.1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, has caused many controversies and debates amongst policy makers, experts and practitioners. Although central to a child’s full enjoyment of his or her rights, the meaning of the concept in practice and how it should be interpreted and applied, is still part of today’s debate. The Belgian Authorities and the Council of Europe organised on 9 and 10 December 2014 a conference on “The best interests of the child - A dialogue between theory and practice” to provide an opportunity for actors involved in decisions that have an impact on children’s lives to share knowledge and enhance the understanding of the concept of the child’s best interest.

Featuring in this publication are the 21 different viewpoints presented during the conference on the concept of the best interests of the child. They are divided into four chapters namely those presenting general reflections of the concept; assessing, determining and monitoring best interests; using the concept in different environments; and understanding the concept in family affairs.

All viewpoints agree on the fact that there is no comprehensive definition of the concept, and that its vagueness has resulted in practical difficulties for those trying to apply it. Some suggest that the best interest should therefore only be used when necessary, appropriate and feasible for advancing children’s rights, whereas others see the flexibility of the concept as its strong point. Through their different interpretations and analysis, this publication offers a solid contribution to the overall understanding of the concept of the best interests of child, necessary to improving and safeguarding children’s rights overall.

Contents

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1 – THE CONCEPT OF THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD: GENERAL REFLECTIONS
Presentation of General Comment No. 14: strengths and limitations, points of consensus and dissent emerging in its drafting – Jorge Cardona Llorens
The concept of the best interests of the child: what does it add to children’s human rights? – Nigel Cantwell
Interpreting and applying the best interests of the child: the main challenges – Olga Khazova
Best interests of the child and the right to be heard – Gerison Lansdown
Alpha ursae minoris – The North Star and the child’s best interests among competing interests – Jacques Fierens
Children’s best interests: a discussion of commonly encountered tensions – Eveline van Hooijdonk

CHAPTER 2 – ASSESSING, DETERMINING AND MONITORING BEST INTERESTS
Determining marginalised children’s best interests through meaningful participation – Urszula Markowska-Manista
How to assess and determine the best interests of the child from a perspective of child development and child-rearing – Margrite Kalverboer
The best interests of the child assessment with recently arrived refugee children – Carla van Os
Monitoring best-interests decisions – Can systems developed for monitoring return decisions serve as an inspiration for other domains? – Hanne Op de Beeck

CHAPTER 3 – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS
The concept of the child’s best interests in the work of the Council of Europe – Regína Jensdóttir
The concept of the best interests of the child in the work of the European Union – Margaret Tuite
The concept of the best interests of the child from the perspective of a practitioner – Tam Baillie
What is the input by children and young people in implementing their best interests? – Johanna Nyman
Ethical pointers and framework for taking decisions in a child’s best interests – The perspective of a children’s ombudsman – Bernard De Vos
The best interests of the child and current challenges civil society faces – Jana Hainsworth

CHAPTER 4 – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD IN FAMILY AFFAIRS
Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on the best interests of the child in family affairs – Aida Grgić
How can we ensure that the best interests of the child are a primary consideration in social work? – Cristina Martins
The best interests of the child in removal decisions – A parliamentary perspective – Valeriu Ghileţchi
Children’s perspectives concerning imprisonment: setting up a self-expression group of children with imprisoned parents or other relatives – Astrid Hirschelmann
The child’s best interests and the right to know his or her origins – Géraldine Mathieu
Concluding remarks

APPENDICES
Appendix I – Speeches presented at the European Conference on the Best interests of the child – A dialogue between theory and practice (Brussels, 9-10 December 2014)
Speech by Koen Geens, Minister of Justice, Belgium
Speech by Sven Gatz, Flemish Minister for Culture, Media, Youth and Brussels Affairs, Belgium
Speech by Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Government in charge of Children’s Rights, Belgium
Speech by Torbjørn Frøysnes, Ambassador, Head of the Council of Europe Liaison Office to the European Union
Appendix II – Conclusions of the European Conference on the Best Interests of the Child within the framework of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Brussels, 9-10 December 2014)
Appendix III – Executive summaries of the contributions

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