Professor William R. Duncan receives Ireland's Presidential Distinguished Service Award

The Permanent Bureau is pleased to announce that former Deputy Secretary General of the HCCH, Professor William Duncan, was named as one of 14 honourees to receive the prestigious Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. Professor Duncan received the award in the category of “Peace, Reconciliation, and Development”, in recognition of his years of dedication to academia and law reform in Ireland, as well as his involvement with the HCCH, first as a delegate and later as a member of the Permanent Bureau. The honourees were announced in November 2020, with the official ceremony being postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.

Professor Duncan has long been actively involved in the HCCH and its work. From 1989, he contributed to the work of the HCCH as an expert and delegate, bringing his expertise as both an academic and law reform commissioner. In this capacity he played a key role in the negotiations of both the 1993 Adoption and 1996 Child Protection Conventions.

In 1997, Professor Duncan joined the Permanent Bureau as First Secretary, and was Deputy Secretary General from 2002 until his retirement in 2011. He had primary responsibility for the HCCH Children’s Conventions, and for the negotiations of the 2000 Adults Convention, 2007 Child Support Convention, and its Protocol. He developed globally acclaimed programs to support the operation of the HCCH Children’s Conventions in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as well as the Malta Process dialogue with legal systems across the Mediterranean.

In Ireland, Professor Duncan has been credited with pioneering the development of family law and a strong campaigner for family law reform. He was a Professor of law at Trinity College Dublin, a Member of the Law Reform Commission of Ireland and was until recently one of the Commissioners of the Irish Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters.

On behalf of the HCCH, the Permanent Bureau congratulates Professor Duncan on being awarded this prestigious honour, testament to his lifelong commitment to justice for all.