Parental Child Abduction and the State: Identity, Diplomacy and the Duty of Care
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Hague Journal of Diplomacy. 2018, 13 1-21. 10.1163/1871191X-11302010
States alternate between the roles of ‘caretaker’ and ‘rescuer’ when providing care to citizens abroad. This article suggests that they are more likely to assume the ‘rescuer’ role when core values underpinning their self-identity are at stake. This dynamic is explored by examining a case where a Norwegian mother re-abducted her two children from Morocco. In the process, Norway’s foreign minister authorized shielding the children at the Norwegian Embassy in Rabat, citing ‘Norway’s duty to protect two Norwegian minors in fear of their lives’. A diplomatic conflict between Norway and Morocco followed. The Norwegian response must be seen in light of Norway’s self-identity as a frontrunner for children’s rights. Ultimately, helping the children ‘had’ to trump concerns about diplomatic costs. The broader dilemmas that this case exemplifies should be relevant also to other cases where a state’s concern for a child citizen is pitted against its obligation to diplomatic conventions.