This article examines the right to respect for family life in international law, focusing on its underlying principles and explicit protections. The article identifies these legal norms so that drafters of international treaties, specifically the International Migrants Bill of Rights, and United States legal practitioners representing immigrant children can incorporate the right to respect for family life into their drafting and advocacy, thereby protecting and promoting this critical human right.
To encourage both high-level, international treaty-based reform and the grassroots domestic advocacy necessary to comprehensively protect and promote this right, this article provides specific ideas for incorporating the right to respect for family life into (1) the International Migrants Bill of Rights and (2) the United States immigration advocacy process.
Section II identifies the principles that underlie the right to respect for family life, especially as it relates to children: (1) that family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and (2) that maintaining the family unit is in the best interests of the child. It also discusses the individuals to whom the right to respect for family life typically attaches. Section III discusses examples of how courts and U.N. expert bodies, including the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, apply the right to respect for family life in child and family immigration contexts. Section IV analyzes the themes and reasoning in this case law.
Section V discusses specific ideas for further integrating the right to respect for family life into the current version of the International Migrants Bill of Rights. Section VI identifies ways in which United States-based advocates can incorporate the right to respect for family life into their advocacy efforts. Section VII provides a brief conclusion.
24 Geo. Immigr. L.J. 651-684 (2010)