In according to recent statistical data residence permits for family reasons have been the type most frequently issued in the regional context of the European Union1. In several countries (for instance Germany, Luxembourg, Italy and Spain) “family reasons accounted for more than 50% of all first permits issued”2. These data reveal an important but perhaps unsurprising feature, i.e. that movements for family reasons constitute a significant part of the migration flows in the European area. As known, the term “family reasons” applies to a broad and general category of residence permits that also includes the ones issued for family reunification. Generally speaking, there is no doubt that family reunification is seen as one of the fundamental
pillars of the family life of immigrants and beneficiaries of international protection. In this perspective, in order to promote and protect family unity, the inclusion at domestic level of specific and adequate legislative measures aimed to ensure reunion with family members must be made a priority. Moving from theory to practice, unfortunately, a quick overview of the domestic laws of several European States reveals the presence of restrictions that may constitute an obstacle to family reunion3, in spite of the widely recognised importance of the family unity goal.
Under these circumstances, broadly speaking, all States are encouraged to introduce and strengthen national policies on family reunification, taking into particular account the relevant international obligations. With this in mind, we must underline that, from the point of view of international law, family reunification is regulated, directly or indirectly, by several international legal instruments at universal and regional level, especially – in the latter regard – within the institutional framework of the European Union4. Therefore, an overview of the international legal framework applicable to family reunification would help us identify the main legal obligations of the States. However, we should also specify in advance that the analysis of the regional legal instruments is not included in this study, although some unavoidable references will be made with regard to specific issues and in a comparative key. The actual purpose of this contribution is to discuss the current legal framework on family reunification at universal level and, more specifically, in the United Nations context. From a methodological point of view, the first part of the study will be an in-depth analysis of the main relevant human rights international instruments, both those of a general character (such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and those devoted to the protection of specific groups of individuals, […]
Content: 1. Introduction. – I. The United Nations Human Rights Framework and Family Reunification. 1. From the Declaration of Human Rights to the UN Covenants: The Indirect Protection of Family Reunification and the Practice of the UN Human Rights Committee. – 2. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. – II. Family reunification in the International legal instruments concerning refugees and migrants. – 1. The 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Standard-Setting Role of the UNHCR Executive Committee. Introductory Observations on the General Practice Concerning the Adoption of Conclusions and their Legal Impact. – 1.1. More Specifically: The Conclusions Relating to Family Reunification. – 2. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrants Workers and Members of their Families (ICMW). A Missed Opportunity to Strengthen the Protection of Family Reunification at Universal Level. – III. The Practice of other United Nations human Rights bodies. – 1. The Contribution of the Human Rights Council to the Promotion of Family Reunification and the Practice of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. – IV. Concluding Remarks.