Join the HCCH Regional Conference on 7 and 8 February 2023

January 24th, 2023

By Dr Christophe Bernasconi

On behalf of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH), I am pleased to inform you that together with the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and Finland’s Ministry of Justice, we will organise a Regional Conference titled ‘The HCCH and the Relevance of its Work for Southern Africa’. The event, which will also include the participation of Namibia and Tanzania, as well as other states of the Southern African Development Community, will take place on 7 and 8 February 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will be an in-person event and will be held at the University of Pretoria with the possibility to join online. The conference aims to gather officials from ministries, central authorities and competent authorities working with the HCCH Conventions, as well as academics, lawyers and judges interested in the work of the HCCH.

The HCCH is an intergovernmental organisation, the mandate of which is the progressive unification of the rules of private international law. Since 1893, the HCCH has worked to develop multilateral instruments that seek to provide greater legal certainty and predictability, establish international cooperation mechanisms, and promote effective cross-border dispute resolution, in the context of cross-border relationships and activities. Today, there are over 90 members of the HCCH and over 150 states that are connected to its work, either through membership in the organisation or by being party to one or more of its Conventions or instruments. As the HCCH continues to grow and diversify, in accordance with its strategic tenet of universality and inclusiveness, its vision remains constant. Throughout its history, the HCCH has been building bridges between legal systems for the benefit of individuals, families, and companies.

The HCCH Conventions and instruments provide clarity and direction in cross-border relations across three main areas, namely –

  • international family and child protection law;
  • transnational litigation and the authentication of public documents (Apostille); as well as
  • international commercial, digital, and financial law.

The HCCH Conventions are widely used in practice, helping individuals, families, and companies involved in cross-border situations by providing solutions to questions concerning jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition, and enforcement, as well as establishing effective cooperation mechanisms between states, including between the European Union Member States, such as Finland, and African states. In this age of globalisation, cross-border interactions are commonplace, highlighting the importance of private international law and, by extension, the work of the HCCH, which has a direct, positive impact on people’s lives. For further information on the work of the HCCH, please visit our website at

While states from all over the world can benefit from the work of the HCCH, Africa is the least represented region in the HCCH (there are currently eight African states that are members of the HCCH, including, South Africa and Namibia, and another 23 African states that are non-members but party to at least one HCCH Convention). It is, therefore, crucial to promote further the benefits of the work of the HCCH for the African Region.

The Regional Conference sessions will provide a unique opportunity for participants to learn more about the HCCH and its work, including some of its most relevant Conventions, and it allows delegates to engage with experts from across Southern Africa and to consider regional experiences and perspectives. The organisers hope that this initiative will encourage states across Southern Africa to consider becoming members of the HCCH and to assess the possibility of joining various HCCH Conventions, but also that it will promote the use of its Conventions among legal practitioners.

If you wish to attend the Regional Conference and receive the full detailed programme, or if you have any questions on the conference or the work of the HCCH, please send an e-mail to The HCCH hopes to see you on 7 and/or 8 February at this momentous Regional Conference.

Dr Christophe Bernasconi is the Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Dr Bernasconi took up the office of Secretary General of the HCCH on 1 July 2013. In this capacity, he focuses on the good governance and strategic development of the HCCH, spearheading efforts towards its universality and inclusiveness.