From 10 to 17 October 2023, the Eighth Meeting of the Special Commission (SC) on the Practical Operation of the 1980 Child Abduction Convention and the 1996 Child Protection Convention was held at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The meeting was attended by 471 delegates, in person and via videoconference, representing HCCH Members, non-Member Contracting Parties, and Observers, as well as by members of the Permanent Bureau (PB).
The SC reviewed and clarified a number of issues in relation to the practical operation of the 1980 and 1996 Conventions, based on information submitted by Members and Contracting Parties in response to questionnaires. The SC confirmed that, in general, both Conventions are operating effectively.
In relation to the 1980 Convention, delegates discussed, among other topics, questions arising in relation to the processing of return applications and the enforcement of return orders, as well in relation to the request of rights of custody and access / contact. The SC recommended that Contracting Parties experiencing delays, which remain a significant obstacle to the operation of the Convention, review their existing processes. The SC assessed the application of the Article 13(1)(b) exception to the return of the child in the context of domestic violence, supporting the proposal of the Secretary General to hold a forum on this topic that would allow for discussions amongst organisations representing parents and children, and those applying the Convention. Noting progress made in relation to the revised Request for Return Recommended Model Form and Request for Access Recommended Model Form, the SC invited the PB to convene a Group of interested delegates to assist in their finalisation.
In relation to the 1996 Convention, the SC discussed issues relating to jurisdiction, including change of habitual residence, the definition of “urgency” under Article 11, and the transfer of jurisdiction, as well as coordination of jurisdiction issues and direct judicial communications. It also provided guidance on the determination of parental responsibility and rights of custody; the recognition and enforcement of measures of protection and the placement or provision of care of the child in another Contracting Party under Articles 3(e) and 33. Mediation and international family relocation were also discussed in the context of both the 1996 and the 1980 Convention. The SC also encouraged States that have not done so yet to join the 1980 and the 1996 Conventions.
The SC adopted 103 Conclusions & Recommendations, which are available on the HCCH website in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Additional information on the 1980 Child Abduction Convention can be found here, while additional information on the 1996 Child Protection Convention is available here.
Photo credit: Sicco van Grieken