University essay from Lunds universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: The focus for this qualitative research is how the best interests of the child has been interpreted in two asylum cases by the Supreme Court. The context is how most liberal democratic states have committed themselves to international human rights laws, binding them to safeguard the rights of the child, while facing extra-legal pressures from constituents to limit migration. This research draws primarily on document research as a method, to show how the Supreme Court has struck a balance between the rights of the child (substance criteria) and the rights of the state to limit migration (procedural criteria) in a Norwegian context. Drawing on key theoretical concepts, the main conclusions of this research are firstly that there are many ways to interpret legal texts, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Article 3 (1) ‘the best interests of the child’. Secondly, by examining the nature of the relationship between national- and international law, this thesis shows that there are different interpretations on the international human rights obligations’ power to direct how states should practice the best interests principle. Thirdly, this thesis indicates that international laws’ indeterminacy gives the states wide latitude to interpret the best interests principle. Fourthly, this thesis clarifies the relationship between law and politics, and indicates that the interpretation of the best interests principle is influenced by political and extra-legal factors.

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