Forum on Domestic Violence and the Operation of Article 13(1)(b) of the 1980 Child Abduction Convention

From 18 to 21 June 2024, the HCCH co-hosted the Forum on Domestic Violence and the Operation of Article 13(1)(b) of the 1980 Child Abduction Convention with the Government of South Africa and the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Child Law (see Conclusion and Decision No 31 of CGAP 2024).

With about 100 attendees joining in person and a total of over 340 connecting online from around the world, this Forum marked a historic moment. For the first time, the HCCH convened representatives from all relevant perspectives to engage in an open, informal dialogue on the operation of the Child Abduction Convention within the context of domestic violence. The programme of the Forum, including the selection of speakers, was developed by a Steering Committee representative of the wide range of participating parties, which included advocates for victims of domestic violence and left-behind parents, judges, Central Authorities, legal practitioners, psychological experts, academic researchers and non-governmental organisations.

The Forum was divided into ten sessions covering different subjects and perspectives relevant to child abduction cases involving domestic violence, including the role of key actors in the operation of Article 13(1)(b); the trauma caused by domestic violence and child abduction; lived experiences of abduction cases involving domestic violence; approaches to hearing the child in return proceedings; mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods; return and non-return decisions; risk assessment and protective measures (incl. benefits of the 1996 Child Protection Convention); the preservation of the best interests of the child following a decision; assessment of possible relocation; and the need for further research and collection of data.

Each session consisted of a discussion by a panel of speakers with relevant expertise and/or experience followed by a Q&A session. The Forum concluded with a discussion on lessons learned and possible next steps.

The Permanent Bureau is preparing a Report that will reflect the contributions made during the Forum. It will neither contain Conclusions & Recommendations nor will it assess or otherwise comment on any statements made during the Forum. The Report will be shared in due course with all HCCH Members and Forum participants.

The Permanent Bureau of the HCCH is grateful to the Governments of South Africa, Australia, Brazil, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom for their generous financial contribution to the organisation of the Forum. Additionally, Forum participants were pleased to hear Brazil's announcement of their intention to host the next Forum in 2025.

More information on the Forum is available on the HCCH website.