From 24 to 26 October 2018, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the International Hague Network of Judges (“IHNJ”), Members of the IHNJ from over 30 jurisdictions, experts from the Central Authority of the United States of America (“USCA”), Reunite, private practice, and the Permanent Bureau (PB) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), met at Florida International University, Miami, to discuss the IHNJ, direct judicial communications (“DJC”) in international family law matters and the operation of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the 1980 Child Abduction Convention) from a judicial perspective. The discussions also touched upon other Hague Children’s Conventions, i.e., the Convention of 19 October 1996 on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (the “1996 Child Protection Convention”) and the Convention of 23 November 2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the “2007 Child Support Convention”).
Participants at the meeting adopted Conclusions and Recommendations (Portuguese version, Spanish version) dealing with, amongst others, the use and promotion of DJC, the safe return of the child, case management and delays under the 1980 Child Abduction Convention, mediation in child abduction cases and the development of a Secure Platform for the IHNJ.
The creation of the International Hague Network of Judges specialising in family matters was first proposed at the 1998 De Ruwenberg Seminar for Judges on the international protection of children (the first judicial seminar ever organised by the PB). It was 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, other judges within their jurisdictions and judges in other Contracting States, in respect, at least initially, of issues relevant to the 1980 Child Abduction Convention. It was felt that the development of such a network would facilitate communications and co-operation between judges at the international level and would assist in ensuring the effective operation of the Convention. 20 years later, it is recognised that there is a broad range of other international instruments, both regional and multilateral, in relation to which direct judicial communication may be useful. The IHNJ now consists of 133 Members representing 84 States.