Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Changes in Child-Protection Systems?

NEW ARTICLE: Katre Luhamaa explores whether international human-rights supervision are triggering changes in child-protection systems.

The international rights of children are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). By signing this treaty, states undertake an obligation to incorporate and implement the treaty obligations into their national legal system.

The national implementation of the CRC is supervised by the CRC Committee. The committee issues periodically recommendations addressing ways to improve the national implementation of the treaty.

The attention paid to these recommendations, depends on the good will of the states, as there is no inherent international enforcement mechanism, explains senior researcher Katre Luhamaa.

The Case of the Estonian child protection system

Luhamaa is an expert on international children’s rights, and has recently published an analysis of the effects of the recommendations from the CRC Committee on the Estonian child protection system. The article is published in the journal Juridica International.

– My analysis indicates that Estonia seemed to take the proposed changes from the CRC Committee seriously and made adjustments to the national child-protection system. However, the legislative developments took some time, states Luhamaa.

Estonia has reviewed its central child-protection and family-law legislation, and reformed the national child-protection system. Luhamaa found that there was a connection between the recommendations of the Committee and the amendments to the legislation.

Building a culture

The study by Luhamaa correlates with other research findings, showing that the CRC reporting process itself is a fundamental element of building a culture of respect for children’s rights.

In Estonia, this was evident in the constructive engagement of the state in the reporting process. Also, the CRC reporting process gave a voice to the national NGOs and the Ombudsman for Children, who reviewed the entire child-protection system and supported the national changes.

My research indicates that international human-rights supervisions have impact on the national level, even though there are no hard enforcement mechanism. This is interesting, and should be a topic for further examination, concludes Luhamaa.

The article was produced in conjunction with the DISCRETION-project, and is available Open Access via the link below.

PHOTO: Colourbox

Katre Luhamaa (2020). International Human-Rights Supervision Triggering Change in Child-Protection Systems? Juridica International. 

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