Family reunification:

domestic and regional human rights courts perspective


  • Lutiana Valadares Fernandes Barbosa
  • Ana Luiza Zago de Moraes


Family reunification; Migration; Courts.


Domestic and regional courts have a relevant role not only in applying international law but also in developing it. This paper aims to critically analyze how regional human rights courts and domestic courts decided cases regarding the right to family reunification in the context of migration. This right flows from and assures the human right to family, an essential institution to democracy. First, it provides an overview of the right to family reunification. Next, it discusses cases from the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), observing that the African Court of Justice and Human Rights has no cases in this regard. It further presents cases on family reunification contained in the Oxford International Law in Domestic Courts (ILDC) database. Finally, it concludes that regional human rights courts have played a key role in strengthening and specifying the right to family reunification. Domestic courts, on their turn, provide different contours to this topic, and their decisions gravitate among a spectrum. In one extreme is the child’s best interest principle and the family as a lynchpin to the society; on the other, it is the national security interest. However, all the decisions presented recognize protection for family reunification, even if only on exceptional or humanitarian grounds.