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The best interests principle in intercountry adoption

This research analyses issues underlying the best interests principle, with a view to identifying how to strengthen its application in inter-country adoption (ICA). Many of the debates surrounding intercountry adoption come down, in the end, to differing understandings of the principle and its application.

The final report, authored by Nigel Cantwell, identifies three main measures that need to be put in place: systematic Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) for all policies that impact on intercountry adoption; establishing consensus on the issues to be considered as part of best interests determination processes - and systematic recourse to an agreed process; ensuring unwarranted elements (e.g. material poverty) do not intrude into best interests assessment.

The report proposes a best interests determination checklist. More broadly, the research identifies dilemmas associated with the whole concept of "best interests", which only exists in human rights law in relation to children and is rarely made explicit. These dilemmas have implications for the application of the principle in relation to any issue where human rights based decisions have to be made to arrive at appropriate solutions for children. The target audience includes policy makers, practitioners, researchers, child protection officers, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.