Speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, at the closing ceremony of the signing of the Final Act of the 2019 Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters

Monsieur le Président, Excellences, Mesdames et Messieurs,

En tant que ministre des Affaires étrangères et représentant du gouvernement du Royaume des Pays-Bas, je suis très honoré de m’adresser à vous à l’occasion de la 22e session de la Conférence de La Haye pour le droit international privé.

La présente cérémonie est marquée par la signature de l’acte final de cette session, qui comprend le texte de la Convention de 2019 sur la reconnaissance et l’exécution des jugements étrangers en matière civile ou commerciale.

And now please allow me to continue in English.

You’ve spent the last two weeks intensively negotiating this convention. I’d like to thank you and the Permanent Bureau for your valuable work. This is a new addition to the important body of conventions adopted by the Hague Conference.

The Hague Conference’s mission is the progressive unification of the rules of private international law. The conventions bridge differences between members’ legal systems in areas covered by private international law. This creates a high degree of legal security for individuals and companies.

The Final Act with which a new instrument is added to the body of Hague Conference conventions re-affirms the value of the organisation and its mission. It enhances the legal certainty and predictability that is so important in international legal matters, especially in international trade and therefore our economy.

It took a great deal of effort by you and your colleagues to arrive at today’s result. As you know, over the past few years working groups and Special Commission meetings have been preparing the Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters. Delegates from all the Hague Conference members and representatives of the many observers lent their highly specialised legal expertise to the process of drafting the Final Act.

Today I have the honour of signing it.

And I’m pleased to do so. Because I’m certain that this Convention, by offering certainty and legal security in cross-border transactions and litigation, will have a positive economic effect for Hague Conference members. Not least, because it will inspire confidence in civil court judgments handed down in other member states.

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Hague Conference conventions. They have an impact on the daily lives of millions of people and offer solutions to the problems faced by many. So I’d like to stress again the importance of the Hague Conference’s work. Every member should take pride in this organisation. The Netherlands is proud to have hosted the Conference since its founding in 1893. We’re also proud to host the many other legal institutions that call The Hague home.

The Hague Conference is special because it focuses on private international law and is vital to trade and commerce. It’s also the oldest international organisation in the Netherlands. And of course I’m especially proud that a Dutchman, Tobias Asser, legal scholar and Nobel laureate, was closely involved in the history of this institution. We owe a big debt of gratitude to him and the many others who have made a contribution over the past 125 years.

I’d like to close by expressing my appreciation and gratitude to everyone involved in drafting and finalising this important instrument. The process has taken many years and now, thanks to you all, it has yielded this result. I’d especially like to thank David Goddard. From the start of the negotiations he chaired the various Special Commission meetings, including the one which prepared the Convention for this twenty-second Diplomatic Session.
I also like to thank the Secretary-General of the Hague Conference and the other members of the Permanent Bureau for their work, and Professor Paul Vlas for chairing this Diplomatic Session.

Je tiens à finir mon intervention comme je l’ai commencée: en français. Je forme le vœu que l’accord que vous avez finalisé aujourd’hui prenne rang parmi les plus précieux joyaux des conventions de La Haye. S’il est le plus récent, je suis certain qu’il n’en sera pas le dernier.

Merci - Thank you!