VOICE Project – Voice of the Child in International Child Abductions in Europe

The VOICE was a two-year project, co-funded by the European Union, that was carried out with a partnership of 7 organizations from 4 countries: Missing Children Europe, University of Ghent, University of Antwerp, University of Genoa, Center for International Child Abduction, Child Focus and MiKK, with Missing Children Europe being the Project Coordinator of this project, which ran form 2017-2019.

The aim of this project was to assure a more child-friendly justice by involving children in cases of international child abduction and cross-border conflict by ensuring them the opportunity to be heard and considering their interest. This was to be obtained through child-friendly methods for hearing children in cases of international child abduction and child-friendly methods for incorporating the voice of the child in cross-border family mediation.

The project included extensive research, several project meetings, two legal trainings in Ghent and Genoa as well as a training on Child Inclusive Mediation in Berlin.

MiKK, with the support of Centre IKO, Netherlands, developed the concept and delivered the training for Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM) in cross-border family dispute and child abduction cases.

The recast of the Brussels II bis Regulation puts a strong emphasis on the hearing of the child (in the judicial process) as well on mediation in child abduction, which courts should consider in all cases, hence there is significant interest in CIM in child abduction and international custody proceedings.

Two Child Inclusive Mediation Trainings took place in Berlin on 7-8 March and 4-5 April 2019. 52 cross-border family mediators from 26 countries participated in the trainings (two separate training groups).

Participants were introduced to different models of child inclusive mediation in countries where this is well established, such as in Australia, the Netherlands and the UK as well as discuss their own experience.