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New Issue: Nordic Journal of Human Rights, Volume 38, Issue 2

The Nordic Journal of Human Rights has published the second issue of Volume 38. This is a special issue focusing on children’s rights, with an editorial by the Norwegian jurist and child rights expert, Professor Kirsten Sandberg. The following articles can be found in the new issue.

A Focus on Domestic Structures: Best Interests of the Child in the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child by Milka Sormunen

The views of human rights treaty bodies are essential in understanding key treaty provisions. However, the interpretations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the monitoring body of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, are mostly scattered among concluding observations that the CRC issues in response to states’ periodic reports. Through systematic analysis, this article shows how the CRC conceptualises the best interests of the child, an important yet indeterminate concept for the children’s rights framework and human rights law in general, in these observations. The article argues that the CRC connects best interests to various recurring contexts. Most importantly, the CRC focuses on active measures through which states are supposed to implement the best interests of the child. These six cross-cutting themes—legislative measures, integration in practices, cooperation, awareness-raising and training, resources, and monitoring—correspond to the general measures of implementation that the CRC has previously identified, and they are used as a framework to analyse the concluding observations. The results demonstrate the importance of domestic structures in implementing human rights. They can also be interpreted as reflecting the CRC’s understanding of best interests as a positive obligation.

Domestic Violence in Child Protection Cases before the European Court of Human Rights: Double Victimisation of Abused Parents? By Carola Lingaas

In a number of child protection cases, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has concluded that the child should remain in foster care or can be forcibly adopted because of the history of domestic violence between the parents, even when the abused parent has been found to be capable of child care. In the cases examined here, the ECtHR did not take into consideration the situation of the parent who experienced intimate partner violence. On the contrary, that parent’s inability to leave an abusive relationship was used as an argument against reunite child and parent. This practice raises the question of whether the interpretation of the ‘best interests of the child’ principle has gone too far, at the expense of the right to family life of the abused parent who thus suffers double victimisation – as a victim of domestic violence, and as a victim of the Court’s jurisprudence that accepts the severance of family ties.

Children Trapped in Camps in Syria, Iraq and Turkey: Reflections on Jurisdiction and State Obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by Chrisje Sandelowsky-Bosman & Ton Liefaard

A significant number of children with ties to the jurisdiction of the Netherlands through their Dutch nationality or for other reasons, are currently trapped in camps in Syria, Turkey and Iraq, often under poor or life-threatening conditions. Like many other governments, the Netherlands Government is not actively engaged in returning these children to the Netherlands. This article asks whether these children fall within the jurisdiction of the Netherlands pursuant to Article 2(1) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and if so, whether the Netherlands Government is discharged from the relevant obligations that flow from this convention to protect these children. It sets out arguments in favour of a more extensive interpretation of the concept of jurisdiction than currently adhered to by governments and courts. Based on these arguments, it can be argued that the children fall within Dutch jurisdiction and that the Dutch Government is under the obligation to adequately protect their rights as laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children as Crowbar? Justifying Censorship on the Grounds of Child Protection by Elisabeth Staksrud, Kjartan Olafsson & Tijana Milosevic

This article studies how possible it is to use the need to protect vulnerable populations, such as children, as a justification to limit freedom of expression in democratic societies. The research was designed and conducted based on the idea that the regulation of speech and access to content is not only a matter of law and legislative interpretations, but also a question of social norms and values. The study is based on two surveys, one implemented with a representative sample of Norwegians aged 15 and older, the other with a sample of journalists. The results show that for the general population sample, 76% of respondents agreed that the protection of weak groups, such as children, is more important than freedom of expression. The data analysis also shows that gender, education, religious affiliation, trust in media and fear of a terrorist attack are all linked to the likelihood of agreeing with this statement. Women are 66% more likely than men to be in favour of limiting freedom of expression to protect weak groups, such as children. While the numbers of those who agree are lower among journalists, up to 50% of journalists still totally or partially agree that protecting weak groups is more important than freedom of expression. We discuss the policy implications of these results for democratic societies.

The Child in the Pentimento: A Restoration of the First Social Contract in Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy Ibn Yaqzan by Sevda Clark

In this paper I offer a restoration of the first layer in the portrait of political liberalism in order to see whether western liberalism can accommodate the subjectivity of children. In this early pentimento we find a social contract theory conceptualised by Ibn Tufayl, at the heart of which is the reasoning child in nature. In Hayy Ibn Yaqzan we not only have the political philosophy of the social contract, but a subjectivity that is more modern than indeed the later Enlightenment pentimenti as depicted by Locke, Rousseau and Defoe.

If you are interested in publishing your work in the Nordic Journal of Human Rights, please read the instructions for authors and submit your article, book review or review of legal developments here.

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