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Hague Convention Countries 2023

The original Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 were massive, multi-part international treaties that established certain guidelines of international law, including rules of engagement that countries agreed to follow during times of war. In the decades since, many additional Hague conventions have taken place and the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) was established as a permanent organization with the goal of establishing and supporting a set of unified international laws.

Each section and installment of the Hague Conventions has been signed, ratified, and entered into force by a different selection of countries. As such, any list of "Hague countries" based upon a single convention would be suspect and inadequate. However, as of March 2022, the HCCH itself includes 91 permanent members: 90 countries (nearly all of which are also members of the United Nations) and the European Union itself, which is classified as a "Regional Economic Integration Organisation (REIO). HCCH also includes 65 "connected parties" which are not full members, but are either in the process of becoming a member or have signed, ratified or agreed to observe one or more HCCH Conventions (full list appears at page bottom).

Countries of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (Hague Countries) 2022:

BelarusItalySaudi Arabia
Bosnia and HerzegovinaJordanSingapore
Burkina FasoLithuaniaSouth Africa
CanadaLuxembourgSouth Korea
ChinaMaltaSri Lanka
Costa RicaMauritiusSuriname
Czech RepublicMonacoThailand
Dominican RepublicMontenegroTurkey
EgyptNamibiaUnited Kingdom
El SalvadorNetherlandsUnited States
EstoniaNew ZealandUruguay
European UnionNicaraguaUzbekistan
FinlandNorth MacedoniaVenezuela

Hague Conventions since 1907

Many subsequent conventions on the subject of international law have taken place at the Hague, leading to a number of additional treaties and agreements, many of which are referred to as Hague conventions. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Hague Convention of 1912 (International Opium Convention) (1912)
  • League of Nations Conference (1930)
  • Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws (1930)
  • Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Hague Civil Procedure Convention (1954)
  • Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (1961)
  • Hague Service Convention (1965)
  • Hague Evidence Convention (1970)
  • Hague Convention on Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (1971)
  • Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980)
  • Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition (1985)
  • Hague Adoption Convention (1993)
  • Hague Parental Responsibility and the Protection of Children Convention (1996)
  • Hague Choice of Court Convention (2005)
  • Hague Securities Convention (2006)
  • Hague Maintenance Convention (2007)

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

One of the best-known additions to the Hague conventions is the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as the Hague Abduction Convention, which was concluded on October 25, 1980, and entered into force on December 1, 1983. The convention's primary purpose is to ensure that a child under 16 years old who is abducted by a parent and taken over an international border—typically in an effort to find a sympathetic court more likely to award that parent custody—is returned to their habitual country as quickly as possible (unless the return puts the child in grave physical or psychological danger).

According to the Convention, the removal or retention of a child is wrongful whenever it breaches custody rights attributed to a person or any other body if those rights were being exercised at the time of removal or retention. Even if a parent already has legal custody of a child in the U.S., the Convention is necessary because U.S. court orders may not be recognized in other countries and sovereign nations cannot interfere with each other's legal systems, judiciaries, or law enforcement.

As of July 2019, 101 states are a party to the Hague Abduction Convention, including all EU member nations, most HCCH members, and several connected parties (full list at page bottom).

As with other multilateral treaties, such as extradition treaties, some countries that have signed a Hague Convention treaty with the United States are noncompliant or refuse to adhere to the terms of the treaty. To monitor these relationships, compliance reports are issued annually which list each country as noncompliant, not fully compliant, of concern, demonstrating patterns of noncompliance, or having enforcement problems. For example, Honduras, which had been notably uncooperative in returning kidnapped children to the United States, was listed as fully "Noncompliant" in each of the ten compliance reports issued from 1999 to 2008.

Can countries under the Hague Convention legally refuse to return a child to their habitual country? They can, but only in certain circumstances. For example, if the child's return could result in physical or psychological harm, they may be offered asylum rather than sent back. A return may also be denied if the party seeking return was not exercising custody rights at the time of removal or if they consented to the child's removal or retention.

Moreover, if a child has reached an age and degree of maturity and objects to returning, the courts can consider the child's view and wishes. Finally, if the return would violate the fundamental principles of human rights and freedoms in the country where the child is being held, a court may deny the child's return. In most cases, the eligibility period for a Convention case is one year, after which a return request may be denied because the child will have settled into their new environment.

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What countries follow the Hague Convention?

Members of the Hague Convention include 91 countries plus 65 connected parties, which are nations in the process of becoming members or observing at least one of the conventions.

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