The notion of ‘the family’ has received considerable treatment in international and regional human rights courts in recent years. This was the subject of a paper published in the October 2017 International and Comparative Law Quarterly (ICLQ) by Professors John Eekelaar and Fareda Banda, which was selected as the 2018 ICLQ Annual Lecture.

The event was held at BIICL on 23 May 2018 and chaired by Professor Malcolm Evans, Editor in Chief of the ICLQ. The lecture attracted a large audience and was followed by an informative Q&A session and a lively reception generously sponsored by Cambridge University Press. It also provided the opportunity to present the 2017 Young Scholar Prize to Pok Yin Stephenson Chow for his article ‘Reservations as Unilateral Acts? Examining the International Law Commission’s Approach to Reservations‘. A certificate and prize of £250 worth of Cambridge University Press books were awarded to Dr Chow.

Professor Eekelaar of Oxford University and Professor Banda of SOAS divided their presentation along structural and normative lines. Professor Eekelaar dealt with the topic of structure, meaning actual or fictitious blood relationships, relationships initiated by formal acts, or ongoing personal relationships. These structures may be governed by different norm systems which Professor Banda presented. The latter concept takes into account the various different family values and legal regimes governing them, such as for example, a heavily patriarchal society where women have few rights, or a more equal one where women can succeed to family property or pass down status such as nationality to children. The different relationship structures can be treated very differently by the different normative regimes, and this was very succinctly highlighted by Professor Banda.

The full paper, ‘International Conceptions of the Family’ is available to download for free for a limited time here, and deals in detail with how the various conceptions of the family have evolved in regional and international law over recent decades. It is a worthwhile read for all scholars of human rights law.

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