Transnational child protection refers to the protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect in an international setting. When a non-national child comes into contact with public authorities and service providers, a series of checks, assessments and immediate measures sets in to identify the child and to assess her or his situation. Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides for the protection of children in and out of the home, including in their country of origin, residence or a third country. Article 2 of the Convention provides for the right to non-discrimination, meaning children have the right to protection regardless of the national origin or status of the child or his or her parents or legal guardians.
A child may become party to a transnational child protection case because of a need for protection, including: due to international adoption, being born to parents with different or multiple nationalities, being born in a different country than either parent's nationality, and migrating or being trafficked. Being an unaccompanied or separated minor comes with particular challenges.
The Transnational Child Protection Portal offers a platform for sharing information, knowledge, and expertise among all those involved in safeguarding children in cross-border situations. It offers an overview about tools, internationally recognised and endorsed approaches and methods, as well as institutions and contacts in different countries. The platform will evolve when more and more institutions, services and professionals take part in sharing their expertise.
Whether at home or on the move, children have the right to grow up free from violence and to be protected from exploitation, abuse, neglect and maltreatment (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 19). Under international, regional and national law, states are obliged to ensure children’s safety and well-being and to promote their development. These rights apply to all children, regardless of their national origin or immigration status (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 2). States also have a duty to support parents and legal guardians in their child rearing roles and responsibilities (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 18).
International migration is increasingly challenging immigration procedures and causes strain on states, service providers, communities and societies in countries of origin and destination. Migration authorities, law enforcement, child protection services, outreach or emergency services, care staff, guardians and legal representatives and the judiciary as well as volunteers are usually involved.
In order to safeguard children on the move, state authorities and service providers often need to work across borders. This requires a good network of contacts, effective transnational communication and procedures for case assessments, referral and service provision. When a child migrates across borders, or has ties to more than one country, it can be difficult for service providers and authorities to ensure the child’s safety and development. There are many challenges involved, such as communicating effectively with the child, including through interpretation and cultural mediation, gathering information from the child’s home community, understanding the situation, aspirations and needs of the child and the quality of the child’s relation to family members. When children are separated from their parents, have been exposed to violence or neglect, or when they are at risk, the objective of all assessments is to identify a durable solution that is in the best interests of the girl or boy concerned.
This portal is a work in progress. Constructive contributions are welcome and encouraged.