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

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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.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Public Law, European and Public International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland; Judge, European Court of Human Rights; 2: PhD candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland,


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