Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Vincent Chetail and Céline Bauloz
Chapter 7: Family unity in migration law: The evolution of a more unified approach in Europe
Migration is generally triggered by armed conflicts and human rights violations, climate change, economic pressure and global opportunities, and the existence of kinship created by earlier migration. Many States have enacted restrictive laws on immigration and strengthened the enforcement of these laws, particularly to minimize their responsibilities under international law towards migrants and their families. Principles of international law regarding the family emerged relatively recently. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, issues concerning families and family law were dealt with by international law 'only insofar as it established the choice-of-law principles for cases in national courts involving immigrant families or families of mixed nationality'. Back then, disputes relating to the personal status of individuals were governed by the law of the individual's domicile, under 'the domicile-based principle'. The rise in human rights treaties in the second half of the twentieth century led to the recognition of substantive principles relating to States' treatment of families and the protection of children. It is now generally recognized that the family 'is entitled to respect, protection, assistance, and support'. This chapter examines the centrality of the family, both nuclear and extended, in the international legal framework in a migration context.
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