Friday, October 30, 2009

The Special Commission on the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law

From 10 to 17 November a Special Commission of the Conference on Private International Law (hereafter HCCH) on the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law will meet at the Peace Palace in The Hague.[1] The Special Commission of the HCCH will discuss the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law.

The Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (2007) and the Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations (2007) are the most recent conventions of the HCCH.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is a global inter-governmental organization. The purpose of the HCCH is to work for the “progressive unification” of private international law rules.[2] The HCCH has nearly 70 Members (68 States and the European Community) from all continents. As a melting pot of different legal traditions it develops and services multilateral legal instruments, which respond to global needs.[3] According to the HCCH, an increasing number of non-Member States are also becoming Parties to the Hague Conventions. As a result, the work of the Conference encompasses 130 countries around the world.[4]

In case a parent entitled to child support stays behind with the child while the parent who is liable for support lives abroad, it is very difficult to receive maintenance payments from the liable parent. The 2007 Child Support Convention is a necessary modernization and improvement of the existing, outdated international system.

The new Convention aims to resolve the problems of unpaid or uncollectible child support and the problems of costly, complicated, slow and under-utilized international procedures. It will provide for a simplified procedure to recover child support internationally. The Convention is designed to respond to the needs of children and other dependants by providing international procedures which are simple, swift, cost-effective, accessible and fair.[5]

Related links to the catalog of the Peace Palace Library:


[1]: The meeting is open only to delegates or experts designated by the Members of the Hague Conference, invited non-Member States and International Organisations that have been granted observer status.
[2]: As quoted from the Hague Conference on Private International Law website
[3]: Ibid.
[4]: Ibid.
[5] As quoted from the HCCH Press Release concerning the Signing of the Final Act of the New Convention on International Child Support

Thursday, October 22, 2009

EU Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports 2009

On 14 October 2009 the European Commission adopted its annual strategy document explaining its policy on EU enlargement. The document includes also a summary of the progress made over the last twelve months by each candidate and potential candidate: Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.
Furthermore, the 2009 progress reports were published on the same date, where the Commission services monitor and assess the achievements of each of the candidate and potential candidates over the last year. That "enlargement package" of information contains also a multi-annual financial framework setting out the financial assistance available to support the reform efforts of the candidate and potential candidates over the next years.

Some suggestions for further reading on this topic :

EU key documents :Candidate countries:Potential candidates:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Human Rights Institutions in Indonesia

Addressing past human rights violations in Indonesia has proven to be a complicated and often challenging task. Massive atrocities and large scale human rights violations mostly took place during the 32 year rule of President Suharto and were never properly investigated or prosecuted. After Suharto’s New Order Regime came to an end in 1998, Indonesia’s human rights community was determined to establish legal instruments in order to prevent human rights violations from reoccurring in the future and to help reconcile Indonesian society by bringing the perpetrators of these human rights violations to justice.

The first step taken to realize these goals was the adoption of the Law on the Human Rights Courts (Law number 26/2000) in 2000 which provides a legal basis to hear and rule upon cases of gross human rights violations that have occurred prior to the coming into force of this law. In 2004, the Indonesian Parliament adopted Law number 27/2004 which determined that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to be established to investigate human rights violations that occurred prior to the entry of the law on the Human Rights Court.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also authorized to award compensation to victims and victims’ families as well as recommend amnesty to perpetrators of human rights violations. This way, victims and victims’ families have the option to choose an alternative form of mediation as an out -of -court – resolution to settle their cases. Both Laws determine that the Human Rights Courts and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have the authority to take on cases regarding the most serious human rights violations such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Noteworthy is that the legal definition of genocide and crimes against humanity are in line with those of the Statute of Rome of the International Criminal Court (ICC) even though Indonesia is not a party to the ICC. Unfortunately, the Law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission showed some severe operational weaknesses which would not enable it to operate in a fair, just and effective manner. For instance, it was determined that a victim of human rights violations can only obtain restitution when the perpetrator has been granted amnesty. As a result, the Constitutional Court declared that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was unconstitutional and had no legal basis. This was considered a major setback for the victim community as this decision closed off one legal avenue to obtain redress for gross human rights violations. The Human Rights Courts has also demonstrated a reluctance to take on cases mainly due to political will. Although human rights remain difficult to implement in practice, these new Laws and regulations have contributed to a remarkable change in Indonesia’s human rights sphere.

Today, discussions on human rights violations take place in the public sphere whereas 10 years ago this would not have been possible. Manfred Nowak, Special United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, Cruel and Inhuman Treatment has stated that Indonesia has made progress in improving human rights, especially with regard to combating torture and domestic violence against women. During the Parliamentary and Presidential elections that took place in April and July of this year, many NGO’s and human rights activists have called on voters not to vote for candidates who are being accused of committing human rights violations. Election results did indeed prove that many Indonesians are no longer willing to vote for candidates with a record of human rights violations. These significant changes can be considered a huge leap forward in bringing justice to victims of human rights violations and ending a culture of impunity. Enforcing human rights protection in daily life will continue to be a struggle but the lack of results can never be a reason to give up this struggle for justice.

Books and articles in the Peace Palace Library on the combinations indonesia and human rights , indonesia and crimes against humanity, indonesia and genocide and indonesia and reconciliation.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum 1609-2009

The Hague celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum (Leiden, Publishing House of Elsevier) with an extensive program of activities. It commemmorates the fact that Grotius wrote his book in The Hague with exhibitions, theater/musical plays, films, publications and lectures in museums and libraries.

Mare liberum is a small pocket-sized booklet of 68 pages in latin, the lingua franca of the educated elite of that time, with the official title: Mare Liberum sive De iure quod Batavis competit ad Indicana commercia dissertatio.
In thirteen chapters Grotius states his ideas of the principle of the ‘Free Sea’. The sea was to be considered international territory and all nations were free to use it for trade. In view of the Dutch competing with the Spanish, Portuguese and the English over navigating, trading and fishing issues, this was a controversial view. In reaction to Grotius’ view John Selden (1584–1654) wrote Mare Clausum.
Grotius’ ideas eventually became the foundation of the modern regime of the high seas. The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea shows Grotius’ heritage in the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind.
The Peace Palace Library has an original copy of Mare Liberum (TMD 541, in the famous Ter Meulen/Diermanse Bibliographie de Grotius). There are probably 30 to 50 first editions in the world.
Excellent reading on Mare Liberum is The Free Sea. Grotius. Edited and with an introduction by David Armitage. ISBN 0865974306 (2004).
Two new translations of Mare Liberum, in Dutch by Arthur Eyffinger and in English by Robert Feenstra and Jeroen Vervliet are due before the end of the year.