Press release

Improving the protection of children across borders

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Children from the UK will now have international protection if they move to another country outside the European Union.

Children from the UK will now have international protection if they move to another country outside the European Union. The 1996 Hague Convention will be in force from today meaning the public can be assured that countries which have opted in to the treaty will uphold and enforce a court order involving the protection of a child. 

The Government has welcomed the move to better protect children across borders and will honour the agreement by providing the same protection in the UK for children from other countries.

Justice Minister Lord McNally said:

‘Today, by bringing into force The Hague Convention the UK takes a major step forward in child protection.

‘The Government will ensure children from the UK and from other countries are protected - no matter where they or their parents live.

‘By enforcing child protection orders we are ensuring that children from the UK will receive the best possible care as decided by the court.’

From today a wide range of court decisions involving children moving from and to participating countries outside the European Union will be enforced under the 1996 Hague Convention:

  • who can have parental responsibility, to what extent and how it can be used
  • rights of custody including rights relating to the care of the child and in particular the right to decide the child’s place of residence
  • rights of access, which are rights about contact with the child, including the right to take the child for a limited period of time to a place other than where the child is habitually resident
  • who is to be the guardian of the child, who is to look after the child or the child’s property or represent the child, and what they are allowed to do
  • the placement of a child in a foster family or in institutional care or in wider family care such as kafala or similar
  • the management of the child’s property for the purposes of the protection of the child.

Notes to editors

  1. For further information please contact the Ministry of Justice press office 020 3334 3536.
  2. The Ministry of Justice press office is on Twitter @mojpress.
  3. The Convention is not retrospective and only applies to ‘measures of protection’ (which are decisions about the protection of the child) taken on or after 1 November 2012.
  4. A list of the countries where the 1996 Hague Convention is in force can be found at Annex A below.
  5. Recognition and enforcement of judgments between the UK and EU Member States has applied since March 2005 and will continue to be used. Annex A - List of Contracting States to the 1996 Hague Convention (DOC 0.06mb)