Aboriginal Child Welfare, Self-Government and the Rights of Indigenous Children : Protecting the Vulnerable Under International Law book cover
1st Edition

Aboriginal Child Welfare, Self-Government and the Rights of Indigenous Children
Protecting the Vulnerable Under International Law

ISBN 9781138261082
Published November 14, 2016 by Routledge
344 Pages

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Book Description

This volume addresses the contentious and topical issue of aboriginal self-government over child welfare. Using case studies from Australia and Canada, it discusses aboriginal child welfare in historical and comparative perspectives and critically examines recent legal reforms and changes in the design, management and delivery of child welfare services aimed at securing the 'decolonization' of aboriginal children and families. Within this context, the author identifies the limitations of reconciling the conflicting demands of self-determination and sovereignty and suggests that international law can provide more nuanced and culturally sensitive solutions. Referring to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is argued that the effective decolonization of aboriginal child welfare requires a journey well beyond the single issue of child welfare to the heart of the debate over self-government, self-determination and sovereignty in both national and international law.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Introduction: Introduction. Part II Aboriginal Child Welfare in Australia and Canada: The colonization of Aboriginal children and families; Reforming the Australian and Canadian child welfare systems: sensitization and accommodation. Part III Self-Government over Aboriginal Child Welfare: Lessons from Canada: The promise and risks of Aboriginal self-government over Aboriginal child welfare; The right to self-government and protecting the vulnerable: balancing rights under Canadian constitutional law. Part IV Broadening Horizons: Indigenous Peoples, Self-Determination and Protecting Children's' Rights under International Law: Indigenous peoples, self-determination and self-government in international law; Protecting the vulnerable within the framework of self-determination. Part V Conclusions: Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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Sonia Harris-Short holds the position of Reader in Law at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, UK, having previously held the posts of Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Durham. She is the co-author (with J. Miles, University of Cambridge) of Family Law: Text, Cases and Materials, a major family law text for OUP, and has published extensively in major UK and international journals. Protecting the Vulnerable brings together her research interests in family law, children's rights, indigenous peoples and the accommodation of cultural diversity in international human rights law. Research for this book was carried out during visiting appointments at the University of Victoria, Canada and the University of New South Wales, Australia and was supported by the award of a British Academy small research grant.


'This is the best book on Aboriginal child welfare law that I have ever read. Professor Harris-Short has produced a book that immediately places her at the top of this field. Written with insight, care and sound judgment, this book explains why Aboriginal peoples have encountered so many problems in raising their children in Canada and Australia, and it proposes innovative yet realistic solutions to addressing legal challenges that continue to plague us today.' John Borrows, University of Minnesota Law School, USA 'This impressive book provides an incisive comparative account of the approaches adopted in Australia and Canada in order to identify and analyse the key elements that should be included in an effective municipal legal framework dedicated to the protection of vulnerable aboriginal children. The author has made a valuable contribution to scholarship not only in relation to specific municipal legal developments concerning the protection of vulnerable aboriginal children but also regarding the way that international law can mediate between States and challenged sub-State societal groups for the benefit of affected communities and individuals alike.' Stephen Allen, Queen Mary, University of London, UK '... provides a highly readable and well-informed analysis of state interventions and the consequences to indigenous children and groups. The detailed account of the Canadian and Australian government’s treatment of indigenous children poignantly points out the barriers faced by indigenous groups.' British Yearbook of International Law 'This scholarly work in law and history provides a thoroughgoing account of Aboriginal child welfare policies and practices in Australia and Canada. Importantly, Harris-Short links the debates around child welfare to issues of sovereignty, decolonisation and self-government.' Aboriginal History