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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 the context of International Child Abduction, Intercountry Adoption, International Child Support, Cross-border Surrogacy and Cross-border Relocation. It promotes understanding of the context and content of private international law and bi-lateral cooperation, in contrast to many other courses in this Masters degree which focus on public international law and on multilateral cooperation. The key objectives of the course are to promote knowledge of, and to encourage specialization 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 are resulting in the development of uniform guidelines for choice of law rules, such as those governed by treaties administered by the Hague Permanent Bureau. This course will therefore have an international focus; it will draw on examples from Europe and Africa as well as other regions (Asia, the Americas, etc).

Particular attention will be paid to:

  1. Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980) (Hague Abduction Convention).

  2. Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry adoption (1993) (Hague Adoption Convention).

  3. In addition, the international dimensions of surrogacy have attracted a good deal of attention, with possibilities of a treaty having already been discussed by the Hague Conference.

  4. Since the coming into operation of CRC OP3, the CRC Committee has begun to receive private international law communications, amongst the violations reported. For this reason, and also since the Committee has been referring to private international law issues increasingly of late, a new session will focus on the CRC Committee, the Hague Conventions and the rights of the child.

Course objectives

The objectives of the course include:

  • Gaining insight into the (social) contexts of the issues discussed: intercountry adoption, child abduction, international surrogacy, cross border child protection and the emerging intersection between the HCCH treaties and the CRC.

  • Gaining insight into the contents and principles applicable to the HCCH 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;

  • Understanding the mechanisms established for international co-operation, including the Central Authorities;

  • 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. * Excursions: 1 field trip to the Permanent Bureau of the Hague International Conference on Private Law.

The main teaching method for this course is lectures by the course convenors, guest lectures and interactive seminars and exercises. In all sessions, students will be challenged to actively participate in the class. The sessions may involve assignments prepared in advance and small ad-hoc assignments to stimulate active participation and critical thinking.

Assessment method

Written journals on selected topics to be handed in four of the five weeks: 25 % each.

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 2023 - 2024. Until these pages are fixed as per 1 September 2023 no rights can be claimed from the information which is currently contained within.

Should there be any future extenuating circumstances 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 2023 may only be done with the approval and consent of the Faculty Board and Programme Director.