Thursday, July 18, 2024

Spanish is the new official language of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)

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On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, the official celebration ceremony of the entry of the Spanish language into the Academy of International Law took place at the iconic Peace Palace complex in The Hague, The Netherlands. As of July 1, 2024, Spanish brings with it a rich and rich linguistic and legal heritage and, together with English and French, is one of the three official languages of the Organization on an equal footing.

The Members of the HCCH took the historic decision to adopt Spanish as an official language in March 2023, during the annual meeting of the HCCH Council on General Affairs and Policy (Conclusion and Decision No. 54).

This decision, which reflects the importance of multilingualism and multilateralism as fundamental pillars of the work of the HCCH, represents an important step that contributes to universality and inclusiveness, as Spanish today represents more than 500 million Spanish speakers. In 1993 Spanish was used for the first time as a working language at HCCH in that year’s diplomatic section. Years later, the HCCH Strategic Plan for the period 2002 to 2006 considered that using non-official languages such as Spanish would expand the Conference’s efforts to achieve universality of its conventions.

The ceremony was organized under the sponsorship of the Government of Spain, and was attended by representatives of the Governments of Spain, as well as of the Latin American and Caribbean States.

The Permanent Bureau thanked the Members of the HCCH for their support in the adoption of Spanish as an official language and, in addition, the Members who made voluntary contributions to support its implementation.

The head table was composed of the Executive Secretary of the HCCH, Cristophe Bernasconi; the Director General of Spanish in the World, Ambassador Guillermo Escribano; and the new Coordinator of GRULAC, Ambassador Agustín Vásquez Gómez of El Salvador.

Secretario Ejecutivo del HCCH, Cristophe Bernasconi y el actual nuevo Coordinador del GRULAC, Embajador de El Salvador, Agustín Vásquez Gómez.

Bernasconi expressed the following: “The incorporation of Spanish represents the composition of the Organization and an important step towards greater universality and inclusiveness. Thanks to the Organization’s growth in Latin America, the group of Spanish-speaking Members now constitutes the largest group of Members sharing one of the official languages. This change underscores the importance of multilingualism and multilateralism as fundamental pillars of our work. It facilitates discussions and allows for even more focused debates”.

“The road to the incorporation of Spanish took almost thirty-four years. I would like to thank all the Members who have made the use of Spanish possible at previous meetings and I renew my thanks to Spain, Mexico and Norway for their voluntary contributions to the current implementation of Spanish as an official language.”

Ambassador Vázquez Gómez, taking the floor on behalf of GRULAC said, “Spanish is more than a language. It is an invaluable cultural heritage that enriches dialogue, understanding and international cooperation as tools for communication and diplomacy in today’s world. As a renowned Latin American author once said, ‘Spanish is not just a language, it is a vision of the world, a way of being, a way of feeling’. The use of Spanish at the Hague Conference on Private International Law will strengthen our ability to ensure that the voices of millions of people around the world are heard and represented in the field of private international law.”

HCCH – Peace Palace – Espanol

At every moment and in every intervention, outstanding concepts were heard and repeated, emphasizing the historic milestone; the importance of this opening, which was achieved after the insistent and coordinated work of the Permanent Representatives of GRULAC, as well as the impact that this opening may have in order to achieve similar achievements in all international organizations as of today, processes with which we continue to work.

The HCCH web page now has a new section in Spanish, which will be gradually completed. The person in charge of dissemination said that, as of its entry into force, all new documents will also be incorporated in Spanish, but that the entry of all previous material will be done on the basis of available resources, although she recalled that an interesting part of the documentation has already been added to the official page.

The electronic address to visualize the incorporation is the following:

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