Invisible children, untouchable cases? States’ legal obligation to protect diplomat children
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This article discusses the scope of legal obligation for contracting states to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to realise children’s right to protection from all forms of violence in diplomat families, while simultaneously acknowledging diplomatic immunity. Based on an in-depth, qualitative study consisting of 43 written and oral accounts of former Norwegian Foreign Services children from 2015 to 2019, we show that children growing up in diplomat families experience infringement of their rights with little attention being paid to their situation by public authorities, neither in a receiving nor a sending state. The effect of being invisible to the authorities of either state is intensified by the legal framework of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations granting diplomat families and their children immunity from jurisdiction in a receiving state. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, however, requires that measures are taken by contracting states. We suggest certain types of actions by the receiving and sending state that are in line with the legal status of immunity of diplomat families while still supporting the realisation of human rights of diplomat children.