The 1996 Hague Convention is now the principal legislation that guides international matters for children and has global impact. It came into force as law in the United Kingdom (UK) on the 1st November 2012. Although it had a quiet entry into the statute books in the UK it is probably the most significant international Convention for children and has far wider consequences than the two other previous international Hague Conventions, which are in existence (the 1980 Convention of Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the 1993 Convention on protection of Children and co-operation in respect of inter country adoption). All these Conventions have developed over the years to accommodate the changing environment that children are in with the opening up of national borders and the ease of travel.
The 1996 Hague Convention is designed to protect children not only in extreme cases where there is cross border trafficking and exploitation of children but also children who are caught up on a turmoil of broken relationship with transnational families. The Convention does this by imposing a uniform set of rules across the countries that have signed up to the Convention (which is most of the world) and takes protective measures for children. These have wide-ranging implications on how applications relating to the movement of children proceed, how countries recognise and enforce decisions about children made in other jurisdictions, how contact orders operate across international borders, the operation of transnational foster care procedures and the options available for the emergency protection of children in situations such as abduction, trafficking and displacement.