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In what way(s) should the best interests of a child influence social welfare decisions?

Research project The project “To Assess “Child’s Best Interests” Under the CRC - A Children’s Rights Analysis in Social Welfare Context” deals with the interpretation and application of the UN Convention on the rights of the child (CRC) in Swedish law, year 2020 and onwards. Focus is on children’s right to financial and other assistance from the Social Services.

The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the interpretation and application of the CRC in Swedish law. More specifically, the project is analysing best interests assessments according to article 3 of the CRC in Swedish child welfare/financial assistance cases. This is done by in-depth studies of legal materials and takes its base in international children’s rights research. At core of the issues dealt with is the societal challenge of ensuring every child's right to social welfare and justice. The project is exploring the potential in the CRC and its context for strengthening children’s access to justice, their non-discrimination and empowerment.

Head of project

Maria Forsman
Associate professor
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2020-03-01 2021-01-31

Funding

Majblomman

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Law

Research subject

Law

Project description

A starting point is the societal challenge of fulfilling every child's right to welfare and social justice. In Sweden today, all children do not have the same opportunities and living conditions. We know from statistics, studies and research that a majority of children in our country are doing well by any measure, but we also know that poverty among children is unevenly spread and that the gap is widening between the children living in the harshest social and financial vulnerability, and the majority with good living conditions. Children in Sweden also have few or no legal means to secure or claim their rights.

The legal-practical approach of this project aligns with the reasons that the CRC now is incorporated into Swedish law, namely our existing deficiencies in (legally) assessing the best interests of individual children and our inability in legal matters to allow individual children to be heard. The best interests of the child is often assessed in a generalized (and unengaged) way, and in the preparatory works and in legal doctrine, the best interests of the child have long been described as an "open" or "vague" concept. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child offers however a more in-depth understanding and description of how the best interests of the child should be assessed clearly including the child's opinions. Thus the need for (international) children’s rights knowledge, and in-depth studies in order to clarify the interpretation of the CRC in the Swedish legal context.

Socially-oriented legal studies are vital in particular for the children who are furthest away from having their rights fulfilled. The project is funded by Majblomman, which is a Swedish children’s charity aimed at combatting child poverty. Their crucial efforts are financed by thousands of children selling “majblomman” – a small flower pin – each year in April. The research grant is awarded for the year 2020.