It is exactly 10 years ago today that the Convention of 23 November 2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance and the Protocol of 23 November 2007 on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations were concluded. With 38 and 30 Contracting Parties respectively (including REIOs and States bound as a result of the approval by a REIO), the Convention and Protocol have been swiftly endorsed in different parts of the world, and are consequently facilitating the effective cross-border recovery of child support payments for the benefit of countless children.
The prospects for further implementation of the Convention and Protocol to tackle global child support debt, amounting to billions of dollars annually, are promising. Interest in both instruments and tools to facilitate their implementation continues to grow, with 13 States currently involved in the development of iSupport, an electronic case management and secure communication system designed to facilitate the practical operation of the Convention. iSupport, co-ordinated by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference and generously funded by the European Union and more than 20 other organisations and States, is already being used by caseworkers in Portugal and the state of California (United States of America) to simplify and streamline the recovery of child support from abroad. As many as 14 other States are taking steps to roll out iSupport in their national systems in the near future.
By some estimates, there are at least one million cases of unpaid cross-border child support globally. The drafters of the Convention, aware of the magnitude of this problem, concluded a modern and effective instrument that has made significant progress towards addressing this challenge in the first ten years of its existence. The potential of the Convention and the Protocol was noted by William Duncan, then Deputy Secretary-General, who said on 23 November 2007, “Today the world has grown smaller for child support debtors”. Hopefully, these instruments will continue to attract many Contracting Parties.