The Best Interests of the Child Principle: A Critical Analysis of the Tanzanian Intercountry Adoption System

Researcher:

Florencia Kimario

Research Area:

A


The best interests of the child principle is one of the cardinal principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 and African Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990 that must strictly be adhered to in all actions affecting the child. According to the Conventions, in child adoption, the best interests of the child must be the paramount rather than primary consideration. This reflects an increased need for protection when a child is adopted.

The best interests of the child principle however remains an undefined concept, with no specifically set criteria for determination in both the United Nations and African Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Arguably, this is a deliberate omission so as to allow different interpretations of the notion depending on context and circumstances. This flexibility however, creates a lack of consensus on what best interests of the child entail. Consequently, this may occasion problems in practice where the best interests of the child may be erroneously construed to the detriment of the child.

This study investigates and critically analyzes the law, policy, practice and institutional setup governing intercountry adoption in Tanzania. Focus is mainly on problems relating to best interests of the child determination, child's right to identity and the subsidiarity principle. Challenges in balancing the need for intercountry adoption to be a measure of last resort and in the best interests of the child are paid particular attention.