The Hague Conference’s (HCCH) Council on General Affairs and Policy (the organization’s governing body) holds an annual meeting, typically in March, to set forth an agenda for the organization’s work over the coming year. The meeting is attended by representatives of Member States. Prior to each year’s Council meeting, the Permanent Bureau (PB) staff prepare a variety of useful documents related to the organization’s work. There are a variety of family law topics on the Council agenda for the March 2021 (tentative) meeting. Included among those topics is planning for the organization’s next Special Commission meeting on the 1980 Child Abduction and 1996 Child Protection Conventions. Special Commission meetings are scheduled once every (approximately) five years and serve as a meeting for Members and relevant international organizations to discuss the practical operation of a specific treaty. The 1980 and 1996 Conventions are routinely packaged together into one Special Commission meeting. The 7th meeting of the Special Commission on these two treaties was held in October 2017. The 8th meeting is scheduled tentatively for 2023.
The PB prepared a “Prel. Doc.” to apprise the Council of its preparations for this 8th meeting. In this Prel. Doc., the PB outlined a list of possible topics that might be discussed at the 8th meeting. For the 1980 Convention, some possible topics include: the interpretation of habitual residence, the grave risk of harm, hearing the child’s voice, good practices for addressing delays in proceedings, holding proceedings by remote hearing, and the interaction between this treaty and other treaties. For the 1996 Convention, some possible topics include: practices related to family relocation, transfers of jurisdiction (Articles 8 & 9 of the Convention), and alternative care and kafala. Further, possible topics for both treaties include: rights of access/contact, Guardian Ad Litems, Direct Judicial Communication, and mediation and alternative dispute resolution.
Check back in with this blog after the Council meeting for further updates on the family law projects being undertaken by the HCCH.