On 14 October 2023, on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the International Hague Network of Judges (IHNJ), Members of the IHNJ from over 30 jurisdictions met in The Hague. The meeting was held during the Eighth Meeting of the Special Commission on the Practical Operation of the 1980 Child Abduction and the 1996 Child Protection Conventions (SC).
The IHNJ facilitates international cooperation and communication between judges on the cross-border protection of children. It was established in 1998, as a result of the first De Ruwenberg Seminar for Judges on the international protection of children, which had recommended that “the relevant authorities (e.g., court presidents or other officials as is appropriate within the different legal cultures) in the different jurisdictions designate one or more members of the judiciary to act as a channel of communication and liaison with their national Central Authorities, with other judges within their jurisdictions and with judges in other Contracting States, in respect, at least initially, of issues relevant to the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” (1980 Child Abduction Convention).
More than 25 years later, it is recognised that there is a broad range of international instruments, both regional and multilateral, such as the 1996 Child Protection Convention, in relation to which direct judicial communications can play a helpful role. In March 2023, the scope of the IHNJ has been extended to the 2000 Protection of Adults Convention. The IHNJ currently includes 152 judges representing 88 States in all major continents.
In addition to marking the network’s 25th anniversary, the IHNJ’s recent meeting provided the opportunity to discuss the role of IHNJ judges, the expansion of the IHNJ, the Judges Newsletter as well as future meetings (both in person and online) and future projects, among other matters.
Photo credit: Sicco van Grieken