Hague Conference on Private International Law

The Hague Conference on Private International Law.jpg
FounderTobias Asser
TypeIntergovernmental organization
HeadquartersThe Hague
83 Members (82 Member States and the European Union)
Secretary General
Christophe Bernasconi
€ 3.8 million (2014)[1]
Websiteofficial website

The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) is an intergovernmental organisation in the area of private international law, that administers several international conventions, protocols and soft law instruments.

The Hague Conference was first convened by Tobias Asser in 1893 in The Hague. In 1911, Asser received the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work in the field of private international law, and in particular for his achievements with respect to the HCCH. After World War II, the Hague Conference was established as an international organisation.


A permanent diplomatic conference

On the initiative of Tobias Asser, the First Diplomatic Session of the HCCH was convoked in 1893. Its aim was, and remains, to "work for the progressive unification of the rules of private international law", including by creating, and assisting in the implementation of, multilateral conventions that promote the harmonisation of the rules and principles of private international law (or conflict of laws).

The First to Fourth Diplomatic Session of the HCCH took place in 1893, 1894, 1900 and 1904 respectively. They resulted in a number of multilateral treaties, the Hague Conventions, that unified the rules of private international law in the areas of Marriage (1902), Divorce (1902), Guardianship (1902), Civil Procedure (1905), Effects of Marriage (1905), and Deprivation of Civil Rights (1905).

After World War I, the Fifth and Sixth Diplomatic Sessions took place in 1925 and 1928 respectively. The result of those Diplomatic Sessions was the Protocol to recognize the competence of the Permanent Court of International Justice to interpret the Hague Conventions on Private International Law.

Intergovernmental organisation

After World War II, steps were taken to establish the HCCH as an intergovernmental organisation, governed by its Member States and administered by a secretariat, the Permanent Bureau. The treaty establishing the HCCH, the "Statute of the Hague Conference on Private International Law", was adopted during the Seventh Diplomatic Session of the HCCH in 1951, and entered into force on 15 July 1955.

The acronym "HCCH" is derived from using the respective capitals of the phrases "Hague Conference" and "Conférence de La Haye". It represents the bilingual nature of the HCCH, which has both English and French as its working languages.