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Mediation to Resolve Child Abduction Issues for Hague and Non-Hague Convention Countries: A Personal Account of the Author’s Experience in Legal Practice

The Right Honourable Sir Mathew Thorpe

(2018) 30 SAcLJ 575

The conventional view was that mediation had no role in applications for a return order brought under the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Abduction Convention”). However, mediation has been carried out for Hague Abduction Convention cases in the past decades with some success and has gradually become a more common practice. In recognition of this, in 2011, the “Guide to Good Practice under the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction – Part V – Mediation” was published. This article discusses the work done by various international organisations and bodies to promote the use of mediation for international child abduction disputes, thus contributing to a shift in professional attitudes. There are still a significant number of countries which have not acceded to the Hague Abduction Convention. In such countries, there will be no available court or no remedy within the available court for a parent whose child has been abducted there. For such cases, the present author argues that mediation is a “front-runner” solution. It may be brokered by actors other than lawyers. The article gives an example where mediation had been successfully used to enable the return of children to the UK from such a country, namely, Pakistan. The author analyses the factors and conditions for the success of the mediation process, discusses various developments in international family mediation for child abduction cases, and shares his views on the challenges facing the development of a global network of international mediators.