Thursday 1 December marked an important occasion for the Centre on Law and Social Transformation as it launched, not only its new unit on Child Rights, but also the new and highly relevant book «Child Welfare Removals by the State – A Cross-Country Analysis of Decision-Making Systems» edited by Kenneth Burns, Tarja Pösö and Marit Skivenes.
Only hours prior to the event, Marit Skivenes’ article «Rettigheter som utfordrer» was published in BT’s debate section
The event was kicked off by the Director of the Centre, Professor Siri Gloppen together with Professor Marit Skivenes and Professor Karl Harald Søvig, presenting the establishment of the Child Rights Unit. Furthermore, they gave a summary of relevant research projects within the Unit.
It was announced during the event that Marit Skivenes had been selected by the European Research Council, to receive the highly prestigious Consilidators Grant. A toast and congratulatory speech by the Rector of the University of Bergen, Dag Rune Olsen, and the Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, Knut Helland marked this cause for celebration.
Pascual Strømsnæs, head of Amnesty Student Bergen, gave a presentation on Amnesty’s recent work on elucidating child rights in a global context, such as child marriage and child soldiers. Strømsnæs also called attention to the crucial importance of research on children’s rights, and announced that Amnesty will promote local, national and international research on child rights in the stated preference.
Geir Kjell Andersland, the judge and leader of Fylkesnemnda, gave a brief summary of Norway’s proud history of being a pioneer country in the work for children’s rights. Thereafter, he gave a detailed description on Norway’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and highlighted relevant shortcomings. In this regard, he specifically touched upon the role of the Family Court in seeking to secure the best interest of the child, and discussing possible structural improvements.
The programme of the evening continued with Marit Skivenes’ elaborate description of the book she has co-edited together with Kenneth Burns and Tarja Pösö. The book covers removal processes in 8 countries (Ireland, England, Switzerland, USA (MA), Finland; Sweden, Germany and Norway), which all represent different types of child welfare removal systems. The core themes of the book are how to understand the structures and uses of the government power, and how to understand the justifications of interventions into people’s lives. The best interest of the child is always crucial in decisions revolving children. Skivenes suggested that the key legal doctrine «It’s better that 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be wrongly convicted» falls short as a guiding principle in decision-making revolving child welfare removals.
Following Skivenes’ presentation of the book, Asgeir Falch-Eriksen, researcher at the NOVA institute, gave an excellent commentary on the book. He pointed out that the book’s comparative perspective offered a unique and important insight to alternative decision-making systems. Falch-Eriksen also referred to his own research on child specific issues «The Promise of Trust – An Inquiry Into Legal Design of Coercive Decision-Making in Norway» (2012).
The evening was concluded by a Q&A session with the speakers and audience. Child welfare removals related to immigrant families as well as to single parents were amongst some of the topics that were discussed.
We want to thank everyone who contributed to a successful evening!