10th Anniversary of the Malta Process

The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law is pleased to announce the 10th Anniversary of the Malta Process, a dialogue involving both Contracting States to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction  and / or the Convention of 19 October 1996 on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, and non-Contracting States whose legal systems are based on or influenced by Islamic law (“Shariah”).

The Malta Process is aimed at improving co-operation in cross-border family law disputes involving children with a view to finding solutions in situations where the relevant international legal framework is not applicable.

Since it was launched at a Judicial Conference on Cross-Frontier Family Law Issues in St. Julian’s, Malta, in March 2004, the Malta Process has developed into a widely cited model for bridging differences between legal systems to solve cross-border family disputes.

The success of the first judicial conference led to a subsequent conference in 2006 and a third conference in 2009, each of the conferences concluding with a “Malta Declaration”.

In response to a recommendation made at the Third Malta Conference in 2009, the Council on General Affairs and Policy of the Hague Conference approved the establishment of a Working Party on Mediation in the context of the Malta Process. The objective of the Working Party is to promote the development of mediation structures to help resolve cross-border family disputes concerning custody of, or contact with, abducted children, where the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention does not apply.

Based on demographic factors and legal traditions, a small group of States were invited to designate an expert to the Working Party. In 2011, the Working Party developed the Principles for the Establishment of Mediation Structures. The implementation of the Principles led to the establishment of a Central Contact Point for international family mediation to facilitate the provision of information. in Australia, France, Germany, Pakistan, Slovakia and the United States of America. Additional Contact Points are currently being developed.

Over the past decade, the Malta Process has played a key role in promoting ratification of / accession to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction and 1996 Hague Child Protection Conventions to  non-Contracting States whose legal systems are based on or influenced by Sharia. The Malta Process has also fostered co-operation to resolve international family disputes involving children when these Convention do not apply and contributed to a better understanding on the different legal systems’ approach to solving international child abduction, access or custody cases.

The next event organised by the Working Party on Mediation in the context of the Malta Process is scheduled to take place on 7 April 2014 in  The Hague in the form of an international seminar titled: “Islamic Legal Perspectives on Cross-Border Family Disputes Involving Children”.