Protecting the Best Interests of the Child: International Child Abduction and the European Court of Human Rights

In: Nordic Journal of International Law
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  • 1 University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2 University of Zürich, Switzerland

In its case law on international child abduction, the European Court of Human Rights (ecthr) seeks to interpret the European Convention on Human Rights (echr) in conformity with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Both instruments safeguard the best interests of abducted children, but in different ways. This article explores the progress made by the ecthr in harmonising the conflict between the Hague Convention and Article 8 echr. While the ecthr’s approach to the abducted child’s best interests in Neulinger and Shuruk v. Switzerland was met with strong criticism, the Court seems to have found a viable approach in X. v. Latvia. The ecthr’s current tactic allows it to continue its dialogue with national authorities and international bodies by imposing procedural requirements, thereby contributing to a harmonised approach appropriate to the best interests of abducted children without negatively impacting the functioning of the Hague Convention.

  • 27

    Schuz, supra note 17, pp. 355 et seq. and 369.

  • 31

    Schuz, supra note 17, pp. 727 et seq.

  • 38

    De Hert and Fisnik, supra note 35, p. 883.

  • 71

    J. Costa, ‘The Best Interests of the Child in the Recent Case Law of the European Court of Human Rights’, Franco-British-Irish Colloque on Family Law, Dublin, 14 May 2011, <www.child-abduction.net/Home/Doc/ECHR%2020110514_COLLOQUE_Dublin_FR.pdf>, visited on 1 October 2014. See also Schuz, supra note 17, p. 27.

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  • 74

    Van Loon, supra note 18, paras. 14–17.

  • 92

    Schuz, supra note 17, p. 271.

  • 122

    ecthr, Rules of Court of 1 July 2014. See also H. Keller and C. Marti, ‘Interim Relief Compared: Use of Interim Measures by the un Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights’, 73 Heidelberg Journal of International Law (2013) pp. 325–375, referring to B. v. Belgium, supra note 22, para. 35; Neulinger and Shuruk v. Switzerland, supra note 7, paras. 5 and 10.

  • 127

    Schuz, supra note 17, p. 290.

  • 129

    Schuz, supra note 17, p. 364.

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