HCCH celebrates its 130th anniversary

On 12 September 1893, Tobias Asser opened the first Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Today, 130 years later, the HCCH celebrates its 130th anniversary with a special anniversary event held as part of HCCH Asia Pacific Week 2023 in Hong Kong SAR, People’s Republic of China.

The HCCH was conceived as a multilateral platform for dialogue, discussion, negotiation and collaboration, allowing for the progressive unification of private international law. Acknowledging that robust legal frameworks governing private cross-border interactions among people and businesses promote peace and justice, 130 years on, the HCCH continues to work on matters spanning international family and child protection law, transnational litigation and Apostille, and international commercial and financial law.

At the special panel held today in celebration of the 130th anniversary, Secretary General Christophe Bernasconi described the roots and evolution of the HCCH, reflecting on the continued and increasing relevance of private international law, and the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to contribute to the growth of the Organisation. Counsellor Zhou Qian, speaking on behalf of the Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law, Office of the Commission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong SAR, noted the impact of the work of the HCCH in Asia and the Pacific and beyond. Counsellor Zhou and other speakers also spoke on proposals and ideas for the continued growth and development of the HCCH’s work, reiterating the importance and continued relevance of the HCCH in today’s global community.

The reflections of speakers at the panel today echoed the enormous value of Tobias Asser’s vision to global community. Asser’s vision was honoured in 1911, when he received the Nobel Peace Prize for instigating the First Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law to “prepare the ground for conventions which would establish uniformity in international private law and thus lead to greater public security and justice in international relations.” (J G Løvland, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, Presentation Speech, Oslo, 10 December 1911).

Secretary General Bernasconi stressed that Asser’s Nobel Peace Prize serves as a constant reminder of an important aspect of the work of the HCCH. He noted that for there to be lasting peace between nations, there must be peace between people in their cross-border relations, and there must be a clear, predictable, fair, and practical legal framework that governs these cross-border relations. 

In the ensuing 130 years, the HCCH has continued to develop an array of private international law instruments. It has grown into a global organisation with 91 Members on six continents and is today the pre-eminent international organisation for the development of innovative, global solutions in private international law. As the HCCH celebrates a legacy of 130 years and looks forward to the future, it continues to support cross-border trade and commerce, foster economic growth and prosperity and to safeguard vulnerable children and adults. Connecting. Protecting. Cooperating. Since 1893.