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Children abroad: A relational analysis of cross-border child protection cases in the Finnish Central Authority

Date:19 SEP 2022
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Sanna Mustasaari, Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, UEF Law School, University of Eastern Finland

Keywords: Child protection – Fights of the child – Central Authorities – Brussels IIter – 1996 Child Protection Convention – Jurisdiction

Children’s mobility and concerns relating to child protection in the cross-border context is an emerging field of study that has hitherto largely remained unexplored. Central to the effectiveness of transnational child protection are structures that facilitate collaboration between the local child protection and welfare authorities of different countries. Under the Hague Conventions on Child Protection (1996) and Child Abduction (1980) as well as EU Regulation Brussels IIter, Member States are required to appoint a Central Authority to serve as a contact point for this collaboration. Drawing on a study of cases handled by the Finnish Central Authority in 2011-2020, this article provides a unique window on the concrete practices of cross-border child protection. Informed by the idea that the state is a social relation and the notion of ‘stategraphy’, the article examines how the state is brought into being in the practices of authorities who work on child welfare and protection and draw boundaries that exclude or include children. It is argued that particular ideas and normative expectations about the state lead to misunderstandings concerning jurisdiction, which may result in a failure to fulfil the positive obligations to secure protection of the child in a cross-border context. 

This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 6, Vol 34, Year 2022.


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