The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of October 25, 1980 (“Convention”) is one of the most widely embraced instruments created, and serviced, by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. The Convention currently has one hundred contracting party states. It is, in effect, the foremost international instrument giving nuts and bolts to the obligation that States have under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of November 20, 1989 (“CRC”), to “take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad,” and “[t]o this end, [to] promote the conclusion of bilateral multilateral agreements or accession to existing agreements.”
This article will briefly describe the origin of the Convention and some of its innovative features. As the Convention will soon celebrate its fortieth anniversary, the number of Contracting States has steadily increased, and many changes have occurred in the global context in which it operates; we will then discuss some aspects of the Convention’s development in this expanding and changing environment. This evolving environment has influenced and stimulated the use of mediation in child abduction cases, which we will turn to next. The Hague Conference has developed various initiatives to promote the use of mediation that we will briefly review. The article will conclude with a short discussion of recent developments in Europe regarding child abduction and mediation and, in particular, a number of novelties in the child abduction proceedings in the Netherlands, which have successfully incorporated mediation into the return proceedings.