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Child And Family In Private International Law


Course requirements

Master degree

Course information

This course focuses on the private international law aspects of international child and family law in relation to International Child Abduction, Intercountry Adoption, Cross-border Surrogacy and Cross-border Relocation. The key objectives of the course are to promote knowledge of, and to encourage specialisation in this area by taking into account the increasing mobility and internationalisation of the child and of the family. Rapid developments in the internationalisation of child and family law and problems arising from increased (family) mobility have resulted in the development of uniform guidelines for choice of law rules, such as those governed by treaties administered by the Hague Permanent Bureau. However, States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant regional children’s rights treaties also have to ensure that their practice is in line with these broader standards, which sometimes raises complex questions due to the operation of two treaties side by side. This course will therefore have an international focus, and draws on examples from Europe as well as other regions (Africa, Americans, etc.)

The focus, on the one hand, will be on the development, provisions, roles, implementation and the subject matter of the child related Hague Conventions, dealing with the different aspects of the internationalisation of child and family law, and will consider contemporary developments, with particular attention to:

a. Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980) (Hague Abduction Convention);
b. Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (1993) (Hague Adoption Convention);
c. Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility and Protection of Children (1996) (Hague Protection Convention);
d. Cross border surrogacy and the possibilities of an international instrument on this matter;
e. International relocation disputes concerning children;
f. Cross border implications of Kafala;
g. Cross border recovery of maintenance/child support;
h. The potential role of the CRC Committee in shaping aspects of private international law relating to the child.

Course objectives

The objectives of the course include:

  • Gaining insight into the (social) contexts of the issues discussed: intercountry adoption, child abduction, relocation, international recovery of child support/maintenance, international surrogacy and Kafala.

  • Gaining insight into the contents and principles applicable to the Conventions, including subsidiarity in relation to intercountry adoption, safeguards and accreditation; and in relation to the Abduction Convention, principles such as habitual residence, rights of custody, wrongful removal and prompt return and the relevant exceptions to the rule of peremptory return ;

  • Understanding the mechanisms established for international co-operation such as the Central Authorities, the Malta Process, Liaison judges and judicial communications;

  • Understanding the work methods of the Hague Conference, and contrasting these to the role of treaty bodies such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child;

  • Understanding the roles and perspectives of different stakeholders in child law in the private international law sphere, at the international level (parents, designated authorities, judges, the children themselves, other relatives, etc.);

  • Understanding the interface between the roles of lawyers, social workers, designated authorities, judges and other professionals in this area of private international child law;

  • Discussing the obligations of States to fulfil their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other Human Rights and treaties, alongside the Hague Conventions.

Mode of instruction

5 weeks of lectures and seminars, including lectures from key international experts, among others from the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Assessment method

  • Written assignment (40%)

  • Written assignment with oral aspect (60%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.

The opportunity exists to re-take the assignment(s). It will be up to the discretion of the relevant lecturer/examiner to decide on the form of the retake. The retake may consist of a written retake exam, oral retake exam or any other kind of assessment that is deemed appropriate.


Literature will be distributed through Brightspace.
Submission of papers via Brightspace using safe assign.

Course materials

A list of all study materials will be published on Blackboard. Unless otherwise indicated, all study materials are available via the online catalogue or as a paper copy in the Leiden Law Library. Where possible all required and recommended reading materials will be made available through Blackboard.


Coordinator of the course:
Ms. N.R.S. Dole, LLM

Programme Officer:
Ms. Esther Uiterweerd
Telephone number: 0031- 71 527 4644

Currently these pages are being updated to reflect the courses for 2022 - 2023. Until these pages are fixed as per 1 September 2022 no rights can be claimed from the information which is currently contained within.

Should there be any future changes of the Covid 19 virus which may impinge our teaching and assessment, these could necessitate modification of the course descriptions after 1 September. This will only happen in the event of strict necessity and the interests of the students will be taken into account. Should there be a need for any change during the course, this will be informed to all students on a timely basis. Modifications after 1 September 2022 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board and Programme Director.