Half-Truths, Mistakes, and Embarrassments: The United States Goes to the Fifth Special Session to Review Operation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
93 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2019
Date Written: 2008
The article argues that the U.S.’s participation in the 2006 international meeting on transnational child abduction was a failure of U.S. foreign policy. The participation was problematic for two reasons. First, the U.S. routinely threw out legal terminology such as “separation of powers” and “federalism” that inhibited discussion of important topics. The United States used these terms imprecisely; the U.S. was strategic, but not forthright, in its approach. Second, the United States opposed many important Convention reforms that would have helped victims who flee transnationally with their children in order to escape domestic violence. The 2006 Special Session was the first time State Parties placed the topic of domestic violence on the official meeting agenda. The United States had an opportunity to take a leadership role in fashioning a response to these difficult cases, but instead the United States exhibited hostility to the plight of women and children fleeing for reasons of safety.
The juxtaposition of these two narratives demonstrates the underlying thesis of this article: State Parties should avoid using legal language in international settings because it impoverishes dialogue about the merit of proposed reforms. Although the United States was correct to oppose a wide variety of policy initiatives (e.g., the consolidation of jurisdiction in the U.S., the appointment of a judicial liaison, the adoption of consent forms for travel, and the enactment of statutory provisions to harmonize Hague Convention law in the U.S.), its method of showing disinterest in these various initiatives was misguided. In contrast, the U.S.’s reprehensible position on reforms designed to help domestic violence victims was offset by its openness in opposing the reforms. The United States’ willingness to address the domestic violence proposals forthrightly allows critics to question the United States’ assumptions, conclusions, and sources of influence.
Keywords: Hague, abduction, convention, foreign policy, child, family, law, legal, domestic violence
JEL Classification: K36
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation