What are the Hague Conventions?

The Hague Conventions are a series of multilateral treaties which provide a means to coordinate the rules of private international law between member nations.

The Conventions are the work product of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization based in the Netherlands which works for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law. Sixty-eight nations, including the United States, are currently members of the Hague Conference and support its work.

As of 2009, there were some thirty-eight different Hague Conventions in effect, each dealing with a different aspect of private international law. New Hague Conventions are constantly in the process of being drafted and adopted and current Conventions reviewed to improve their functionality. The Conventions are often distinguished from one another by the year in which they were adopted  (“the 1965 Hague Convention”).

The most widely trafficked Hague Conventions deal with:

  • Intercountry adoption
  • Conflicts of laws relating to the form of testamentary dispositions
  • Maintenance obligations
  • Recognition of divorces

 

  • Intercountry adoption
  • Conflicts of laws relating to the form of testamentary dispositions
  • Maintenance obligations
  • Recognition of divorces

 

To Which Hague Conventions is the US a Party?

US litigants sometimes confuse the different Hague Conventions.  As one federal judge noted, tongue in cheek:

“This treaty is more commonly referred to as simply the ‘Hague Convention,’ a nickname that is not terribly helpful in light of the countless other treaties also called the ‘Hague Convention.’ These include the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters, Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters, Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of an Armed Conflict, and the Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, just to name a few.

“With all due respect to what is surely a fine city, it seems to the Court that treaty-drafters need a new place to draft all of these conventions.  Numerous alternate sites are available right here in the Northern District of Texas. The ‘Waxahachie Convention’ has a particularly nice ring to it.”

Greene v. Le Dorze, Not Reported in F.Supp., 1998 WL 158632, , N.D.Tex., March 24, 1998

The United States is a party to five of the Hague Conventions:

  • The Statute of the Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents
  • Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters
  • Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters
  • Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

The United States is also signatory (but not yet a party to) the following Conventions:

  • Hague Convention of 1 July 1985 on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on Their Recognition
  • Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption