Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism Bergen

Parents’ rights vs. Children’s rights

THESIS: Trond Helland has examined care order cases in the European Court of Human Rights in his master’s theses.

At present date, 47 States have committed to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Convention aims to give all humans some basic human rights.

Children are however not explicitly mentioned. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is the sovereign authority in interpreting the ECHR. Even though children are not explicitly mentioned in the ECHR, the ECtHR rule in cases involving children.

In this project, Trond Helland studied how the ECtHR adhere to children’s human rights in cases involving both adults and children, and more specifically, in care order cases. By looking at the judicial precedent set by the ECtHR and combining statistical analysis with discourse analysis, his study examined how the ECtHR balance the children’s and parents’ rights when ruling in care order cases.

The study revealed that both biological parents and children’s rights where to a certain extent insignificant in care order cases. It was the child’s interests that were the weighty argument. The finding showed that the ECtHR has in latter years turned towards a more child-centric approach. At present date, what is in the child’s best interests are paramount to consider when assessing care orders.

Helland, Trond (2019). Care order cases in the European Court of Human Rights. Parents’ vs. children’s rights. Bergen: Universitetet i Bergen.

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