In Their Best Interest: French and German political attention to child refugees and their rights
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The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) demands that signatory states take the best interest of the child as a primary consideration in every decision concerning children. It also explains that between children, no differences can be made. In practice, differences in the treatment of national children and refugee children persist. This thesis answers the question of how French and German parliamentarians differed in applying the notion of the best interest to debates on child refugees between 2011-2016. By analysing the parliamentary debates of these two countries, it becomes clear that despite differences between the countries, both French and German Centre-Right parties argued in favour of restrictive policies, but do not do so by referring to the best interest principle. Instead, these policies were promoted out of economic, political and ideological motivations. Though it is acknowledged that the right to education and healthcare is inherent for every child, for child refugees the degree to which they can enjoy these rights depends on whether it is in the interest of the nation. This thesis further argues that this is typical for the national ideologies of French Republican Universalism and German Christian socialism.