Article

Best Interest of the Child

Johanna Schiratzki

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online April 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0109
Best Interest of the Child

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The study of the principle of the best interests of the child—or with notions used synonymously in the literature, the welfare principle or paramountcy principle—is a comparatively new topic. It has generated a great deal of interests across several disciplines, i.e., law, social policy, philosophy, anthropology, medicine, and sociology. When the best interests of the child are discussed, recurring themes include the scope for discretion and the dependency of interdisciplinary knowledge. The principle of the best interests of the child has an impact in multiple areas, e.g., health-care welfare provisions and education as well as in court proceedings involving children. The significance of the principle depends on the jurisdiction in which the principle is applied and varies from one legal field to another. Procedural safeguards to identify the best interests of the child in decision making are often included in national child protection systems. When studied in a legal context, the principle is frequently analyzed in connection with children’s rights, a distinction being made between children’s rights and interests based on the principle of the best interests of the child functioning as an interpretative tool as well as a procedure rule or basis for substantive rights. Although the principle of the best interests of the child constitutes an integral part of children’s human rights, codified in Article 3 of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), it has roots that precede the discourse on the human rights of children cited under Reference Works. Within legal science, the topic of the best interests of the child has been approached from different angles, such as: (a) general overviews that are closely related to children’s rights issues; (b) studies on the application of the principle of the best interests of the child to various legal issues, such as parental responsibility, adoption, migration, etc., in specific jurisdictions; (c) studies on the best interests from various scientific perspectives. This presentation follows a threefold outline: research on the best interests of the child is introduced from a general perspective, followed by a section on the best interests in what could be labeled as the public sphere, namely where the best interests of the child depend first and foremost on public authority, e.g., concerning migration. The article concludes with a section on the best interests of the child in the private sphere, e.g., in family law.

Article.  10447 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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