This text examines the application of the standard of the best interests of the child in the context of international law. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child recognises the best interests standard as being one of its guiding principles. The question of whether the best interests standard succeeds in reaching this goal is the central theme of this book. The point of departure for this analysis is that of the best interest standard being a Western notion based on an idea of the child as an innocent in need of protection. However, difficulties arise when the best interests standard has to be applied to a child who does not fit these criteria. Consideration is then given to the malleability of the standard which allows it to overcome such difficulties and to justify its position as one of the guiding principles underpinning children's rights at the domestic and international level.
One of the aims of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is to accord due recognition to the fact that 'the child, by reason of his phsyical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth'.
However, a question mark hangs over the extent to which 'special safeguards and care' can negatively impact on the rights of the child and result in discrimination against the child in the guise of 'his physical and mental immaturity'. This volume explores the extent to which children's rights are secured at the national level; and the reasons why children's rights have or have not been recognised and secured by various states at the level of domestic law. It also explores the difficulties inherent in the accordance of rights to children in order to ascertain whether they do in fact derive from the particular nature of children or whether they mask a reluctance of states to fulfil their domestic and international rights obligations to children, and whether such reluctance constitutes 'discrimination against children'. The volume thus explores the theoretical and legal underpinnings of gender and race discrimination, at both the domestic and international level, and examines the extent to which these may be applied to the area of children's rights.