Research Theme: Transnational Families
Good Governance in International Child Transfer
Outline: The transfer of poor children away from their country of origin to satisfy demands of citizens of wealthier countries has come under increasing attention of law, policy and academia, as children’s rights are under constant pressure. Child trafficking emerges in different forms, for instance in cases of international child abduction, buying children for ‘own use’, and the recruitment of children for commercial purposes both in cases of international adoption and in the use of foreign surrogate-mothers. Two fields of law in particular develop specific rules to distinguish between lawful and unlawful practices of child transfer, namely international family law and criminal law. International family law determines rules concerning international adoption, surrogacy, and international child abduction and draws on ‘the best interests of the child’ as expressed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, ’the best interests of the child’ is a blurred and underdeveloped concept, especially in view of the fact that sending and receiving countries embrace diverging conceptions of ‘childhood’’, ‘family’, and ‘mental health’. Criminal law allows prosecution of practitioners of illegal adoption, commercial surrogacy, and international child abduction. In actual practice, however, the very fact that evidence should be gathered abroad hinders prosecution tremendously. This project investigates the cultural, legal, economic and political factors that sustain the diverging interpretations of fundamental concepts in sending and receiving countries, in order to prepare the ground for more effective legal rules for combating international child trafficking.
Project leaders: Susan Rutten (Faculty of Law), Lies Wesseling (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences). Other UM participants: Gerard-René de Groot (Faculty of Law), Andre Klip (Faculty of Law), Valentina Mazzucato (Faculty of Arts and Sosial Sciences). Societal partners: UNICEF.