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Expanding the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations: Protecting Children by Protecting Their Parents

Posted by on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 in Notes, Vol. 46 No. 5, Volume 46.

Article 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) aims to protect the interests of foreign national children by requiring consular notification whenever these children come into the custody of the state. Consular assistance can be invaluable for foreign national parents and children who may not understand the language or the culture and who may be subject to discrimination based on their nationality. However, the VCCR is currently inadequate in two major ways. First, the protections of Article 37 are only triggered when the child in custody is a foreign national, leaving vulnerable to unfair treatment families in which the child is a citizen but the parents are foreign nationals. Second, enforcement of the VCCR is inconsistent, and the remedy for violations is unclear. This Note proposes amendments to the VCCR that would provide broader and more consistent protection to foreign national families.

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