Protecting Migrant Children
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Protecting Migrant Children

In Search of Best Practice

Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

Unprecedented numbers of children are crossing international borders seeking safety. Framed around compelling case studies explaining why children are on the move in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, this book explores the jurisprudence and processes used by nations to adjudicate children’s protection claims. The book includes contributions from leading scholars in immigration, refugee law, children’s rights and human trafficking which critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of international and domestic laws with the aim of identifying best practice for migrant children.
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Chapter 4: First things first: international law and the protection of migrant children

Mary Crock and Hannah Martin


In this chapter we discuss the evolution of international law relative to the protection of child migrants. After a brief historical account of the traditional protective frameworks of international humanitarian law (IHL), refugee law and general human rights law, section 3 turns to a closer analysis of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). We examine the ways in which this Convention has changed thinking about children on the move. In this context, two core legal precepts are explored. The first is the concept of the ‘best interests’ of the child (CRC, Article 3). The second is the injunction that affording a child dignity and respect must include allowing children to participate in relevant decision-making processes (CRC, Article 12). While the concept of best interests has a long lineage, we argue that it is the participation provisions that have been truly transformative in the discourse on children’s rights. Section 4 follows with a brief case study of the rights of children displaced by armed conflict and/or natural disasters enshrined in the more recent UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This Convention is modelled in more than one respect on the CRC (as shown, for example, in the parallels between CRC, Article 3 and CRPD, Article 7(2), and CRC, Article 12 and CRPD, Articles 7(3) and 12). The chapter concludes with an acknowledgement of the many ways that states have found to deny children the protective force of international human rights laws.

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