At the international, national and local level, authorities seek to prevent citizens from travelling to the Middle East to join fighting parties or settle in the ISIS caliphate (also referred to as IS, ISIS or its Arab language acronym, Daesh). As some travellers have not reached the age of majority, the authorities should take the best interests of the child (Article 3 Convention on the Rights of the Child) into account while addressing this so-called foreign fighter phenomenon. This article explores to what extent the best interests of the child are considered at the international (United Nations, Council of Europe, European Union), national (the Netherlands) and local (The Hague) level when preventing minors from travelling to Syria and Iraq. In general, it finds that little distinction is made between the position of children and young adults. The position of children is explicitly addressed when measures are taken to prevent radicalization. Attention for the position of children is often lacking when repressive measures such as criminal and administrative measures are taken.
How to Cite:
van Spaendonck, R., 2016. To School or to Syria? The foreign fighter phenomenon from a children’s rights perspective. Utrecht Law Review, 12(2), pp.41–62. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ulr.348