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Hague Conference on Private International Law

The Hague Conference is a center for international judicial and administrative co-operation in the area of private law, especially in the fields of protection of the family and children, of civil procedure and commercial law.


What is the HCCH?

"Both personal and commercial situations which are connected with more than one country are becoming increasingly common in the modern world. These may be affected by differences between the legal systems in those countries. With a view to resolving these differences, States have adopted special rules known as ‘private international law’ rules.

The statutory mission of the Conference is to work for the ‘progressive unification’ of these rules. This involves finding internationally-agreed approaches to issues such as jurisdiction of the courts, applicable law, and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in a wide range of areas, from commercial law and banking law to international civil procedure and from child protection to matters of marriage and personal status.

Over the years, the Conference has, in carrying out its mission, increasingly become a centre for international judicial and administrative co-operation in the area of private law, especially in the fields of protection of the family and children, of civil procedure and commercial law." *

Located in The Hague, The Netherlands, the Hague Conference on Private International Law is an inter-governmental organization with 81 Members: 80 States and 1 Regional Economic Integration Organisation (website viewed on 8/19/2016). The status table of the Statute indicates the date of membership.

A State may be a Party to various Hague Conventions without actually being a Member State. There are currently 68 States that are not Members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, but have signed, ratified or acceded to one or more Hague Conventions or are in the process of becoming a Member (website viewed on 8/19/2016).

The first meeting of the Conference took place in 1893 and its Statute entered into force in 1955. The Conference meets every 4 years to conduct negotiations and adopt the Conventions that were developed during that period. It also decides on its future work projects (see list of its Legislative Projects). Conventions are developed by members of various working groups or Special Commissions at meetings held several times a year either at the Peace Palace in The Hague or in member countries. Special Commissions also review how the Conventions operate,  adopt recommendations  to improve their effectiveness and promote consistent practices and interpretation of the Conventions.

The Conference is funded principally by its Members. Its budget is approved every year by the Council of Diplomatic Representatives of Member States. It also seeks and receives some funding for special projects from other sources.

The Hague Conference is supported by its Secretariat located in The Hague that prepares the Plenary Sessions and Special Commissions and carries out research required for any subject taken up by the Conference. **


* Taken, with permission, from the Hague Conference's website (About the HCCH)

** Some of this information comes, with permission, from the Hague Conference's website

Vision, Mission, Strengths & Values and Strategic Plan

HCCH in a Nutshell (video)

About the Hague Conference (click on the YouTube video link)


Each of the tabs listed above provides information and links to key components on or about the Hague Conference of Private International Law. Explore its history, mission and work accomplishments. For additional resources, both online and in print, available at the Pence Law Library, click on the tab "Books and more" or the tab "Hague Conference Publications".

Questions or comments? Contact:

This guide was created in May 2013 by Ellen G. Schaffer, Visitiing Librarian, Pence Law Library, Washington School of Law, American University. It was updated in August 2016. If you have questions, suggestions or comments regardiing the guide, you can contact the author at


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