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1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction: A Resource for Judges: Sources of Law and Interpretation

Text of the 1980 Hague Convention
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that governs proceedings for the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully taken or kept away from their “habitual residence.” The Convention entered into force in the United States in 1988.

Explanatory Report by Elisa Pérez-Vera
The Pérez-Vera Report is the product of the official reporter for the 1980 sessions of the Hague Conference that led to the approval of the Convention. The report is recognized as the official history and commentary to the Hague Convention and is a “source of the background on the meaning of the provisions of the Convention.” U.S. courts routinely cite to this report for guidance on interpreting the treaty.

International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA)
ICARA is the federal law that implements the Hague Convention. Under ICARA (22 U.S.C. §§ 9001–9011), both state and federal courts have original concurrent jurisdiction to hear cases arising under the Convention. ICARA also sets forth the structure for hearing return cases, the burdens of proof applicable to the case for return and defenses, and the relaxed rules for admissibility of documents, and it establishes guidelines for the award of fees and costs.

Department of State Text and Legal Analysis (1986)
The Text & Legal Analysis is a document that was prepared by the U.S. State Department for the U.S. Senate as part of the ratification process for the Convention. It is valuable as an interpretative tool and is frequently cited.

Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014
The Act was signed by President Obama on August 8, 2014. Public Law No. 113-150. The Goldman Act principally seeks to facilitate the return of children from both Hague Convention and non-Convention countries.

Conclusions and Recommendations of the Fourth Meeting of the Special Commission (2001)
This 2001 report presents the findings and recommendations from the Fourth Special Commission, which studied the implementation, operation, and efficacy of the Convention.

Report and Conclusions of the Special Commission (2002)
This report, published in March 2003, presents the findings of the Special Commission, which studied the implementation, operation, and efficacy of the Convention.

Conclusions and Recommendations of the Fifth Meeting of the Special Commission (2006)
This 2006 report presents the findings and recommendations of the Special Commission, which studied the implementation, operation, and efficacy of the Convention.

Conclusions and Recommendations of the Sixth Meeting of the Special Commission (2012)
This 2012 report presents the findings and recommendations of the Special Commission, which studied the implementation, operation, and efficacy of the Convention.

The Brussels II Regulation Adopted by the European Union
The Brussels II bis Regulation binds courts in countries of the European Union to a separate and additional set of laws governing Hague return cases. Brussels II bis does not replace the 1980 Convention in EU countries, but it provides for additional rules applicable to Hague cases. With the exception of Denmark, the regulation is effective between all EU member states. The regulation entered into force on August 1, 2004, and became applicable March 1, 2005. For a commentary concerning the impact of the regulation on expeditious handling, objections of the child, and grave risk defenses, see The Impact of the Brussels II Regulation on Hague Convention Proceedings in the European Union, under Articles and Commentary.