Dr Christophe Bernasconi is the fourth Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). He took office on 1 July 2013. In 2018, he was reappointed for a further term of five years. Dr Bernasconi had joined the Permanent Bureau (PB – i.e., the Secretariat of the HCCH) in September 1997 as Secretary, became First Secretary in May 2000, and Deputy Secretary General in July 2011.
He holds a law degree from Fribourg University in Switzerland (magna cum laude; bilingual German and French), an LL.M. degree in comparative law from McGill University in Montreal (Canada) (with a Master’s Thesis on Oligopolies in unfair competition law), and a doctoral degree in Private International Law from Fribourg University (summa cum laude). He received a series of awards for his doctoral thesis (Der Qualifikationsprozess im Internationalen Privatrecht [the process of characterization in PIL]).
As Secretary General, Dr Bernasconi is responsible for the administration of the HCCH and the operation of the PB. He has long-standing expertise in the fields of international civil procedural law (service of process, taking of evidence, access to justice, jurisdiction of courts, recognition and enforcement of judgments), international commercial and finance law (incl. intermediated securities), international family and child protection law, as well as international legal cooperation. He designed and is the principal administrator of the electronic Apostille Program (e-APP). As Secretary General, his current focus is on implementing various strategic directions of the HCCH, including progress towards universality and further developing inclusiveness. He has been responsible for various meetings of Special Commissions, Experts’ and Working Groups, both in relation to normative work of the HCCH and post-Convention services.
Before joining the Permanent Bureau, Dr Bernasconi lectured in the field of Private International Law at the University of Fribourg, worked as Legal Expert at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law in Lausanne, and as Scientific Collaborator at the Federal Office of Justice in Switzerland. He also advised practitioners on various Private International Law matters.
He speaks excellent French, English and German (mother tongue), and has good passive and basic active Dutch.
Dr Bernasconi was a Member of the Model Notary Act Revision Committee (USA), which produced the Model Notary Act 2010, published by the National Notary Association (NNA). He is the 2019 recipient of the March Fong Eu Achievement Award of the NNA. He was also a Member of the International Bar Association Capital Markets Forum Subcommittee on Legal Certainty for Intermediated Securities, and was Co-Rapporteur of the International Law Association's former Committee on Transnational Enforcement of Environmental law. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Australian New Zealand College of Notaries (ANZCN). He is a member of the advisory board of the Hague Project Peace and Justice Foundation.