Children have always been particularly susceptible to violations of human rights. It is a sad and chilling reality that children today remain the victims of some of the most devastating examples of state-sanctioned and private exploitation, violence and torture. While the maltreatment of children cannot be regarded as a new phenomenon, increasingly children are attempting to remove themselves from the debilitating environment that circumstances have placed them in. Significant numbers of children are travelling thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of miles — often accompanied by family, sometimes not — in search of protection.
This chapter considers how international refugee law and international law on the rights of the child might be creatively aligned to respond to the reality that a child seeking international protection is both a child and a refugee. The focus of the thesis is on the capacity of the two international legal regimes to respond to the distinct needs of a refugee child in the context of the refugee status determination process.
The chapter examines three contexts — defined as ‘modes of interaction’ — where the Convention on the Rights of the Child (‘CRC’) might be engaged to assist in determining the status of a refugee child. First, the CRC may provide procedural guarantees not otherwise provided under international refugee law. Secondly, the CRC may be invoked as an interpretative aid to inform the interpretation of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and in particular the Article 1 definition. Thirdly, the CRC may give rise to an independent source of status outside the international refugee protection regime. These three modes of interaction provide a ‘child rights framework’ for assessing the status of a refugee child.