Hague Conference to begin in Guyana tomorrow


The third Hague Conference on Private International Law will meet in Guyana from July 13 to 15. The Hague Conference on Private International Law is an International Non-Governmental Organisation that has developed a wide range of treaties and conventions regarding family law and the cross-border protection of children.


According to Attorney General and Minister of Legal, Affairs Basil Williams “the issues deal, on the first day, with child protection, child abduction, child adoption, child maintenance and custody…the law that would determine which country would be seized in terms of determining the questions – whether it was Guyana, the cross- border country, America, Canada or Brazil, Venezuela.”


He said the conventions relating to commerce, legal cooperation, cross – border trade, and human rights among other things will be dealt with, on the second day of the conference.


Guyana is not a current member of the Organisation, however, Willams said President, David Granger has already indicated that Guyana is interested in being a member to take the benefits of capacity building and other technical assistance.

“These conventions largely impact the Guyanese people in a positive way, the business community also because, once you sign on to the conventions, for example, the World Bank would rate you higher as a place to do business, and there are different aspects of those conventions that would facilitate easy trading between countries, legal certainty and protection of our investment…the choice of court and choice of law in the case of any disputes,” Minister Williams explained.


This means that the Bar Association, Private Sector, and Non-Governmental Organisations which deal with children will be involved in the upcoming conference.


Additional participation will be seen from Attorneys General and Ministers of Justice from within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Judges including Caribbean Court of Justice President, Sir Charles Michael Dennis Byron. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has nominated two judges to participate, which will complement the participation of judges from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Suriname.


Speaking to the media, Secretary General of the organisation, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi said “we have more than 200 experts from the Caribbean region coming from more than 20 different states so we are delighted to be here. (We are) most grateful for the president’s personal support and involvement.”


The Hague Conference comprises 81 members including the European Union along with 60 states that are party to at least one of the conventions.


Dr. Bernasconi believes that Guyana becoming a member of the Hague Conference on Private International Law will provide direct benefits.


“Guyana would…have a priority access to technical assistance which might be important for the implementation of some of these conventions which might be a bit technical as this cross-border stuff can be difficult… being a member comes with its important advantage that you can rely on a priority basis on our technical assistance,” Dr. Bernasconi explained.


He added that when Guyana becomes a full member, it will be amongst the very first states in the region to do so along with Suriname, as other Caribbean States are only connected by being a party to a convention.


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