In relation to the Brussels IIa recast and building on the results of former research studies, Child Focus, the University of Antwerp, Centre IKO, CFPE-Enfants Disparus, Missing Children Europe and the French Central Authority conducted a large-scale research study on the psychological effects of an international child abduction on the wellbeing of abducted children.

Facts about the topic

Every year, thousands of children in the EU become victims of an international child abduction by a parent. The Brussels IIa Regulation aims to help solve these issues. The outcomes of these procedures will influence to a great extent the daily lives of children: the country they will live in, the language they will speak, and the family members and relatives they will have regular contact with. But the procedure, and the way it is carried out, can also influence the future life of the abducted children.


The increasing political focus on the rights of the child (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child & the European Convention on the Exercise of Children’s Rights) amplifies the need for information on the needs and wishes of children themselves in all matters affecting them directly. The UNCRC stipulates that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies (Art. 3). Judges often use the concept of the “best interest of the child” but not always in a consistent manner.


This research study has enabled project partners to gather concrete information on the specific aspects of an international child abduction influencing the wellbeing of children. The final goal was to formulate recommendations and create good practices for legal and other professionals who deal with cases on avoiding possible trauma for the children involved.


Summary of the research findings – Download

Full research report – Download

Recommendations – Download

Country profiles – Download

Contact person

Aagje Ieven

Secretary-General and contact point International Abduction & Cross Border Mediation

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