The Impact of Institutions and Organisations on European Family Law
Edited by Jens M. Scherpe
Chapter 4: The impact of the International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS) on European family law
The law of persons and family is part of everyday life. But certain events, such as birth, marriage, registered partnership, divorce and death, have a particular significance because they determine a person’s civil status. They define the status of a person in his family and in society. The determination of this status is only possible if those major events are registered. Therefore, states have established civil-status registers kept by civil-status registrars. Civil-status registrars very often have to deal with international cases. People travel, they study abroad, they marry abroad, they work abroad and they have children abroad. These events require civil-status registrars to confront foreign documents and therefore the application of private international law and foreign substantive law. The need for international cooperation in this area has been felt since the interbellum. As a result in 1926 an international association of civil status was founded, composed of individual civil-status registrars from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and from 1929 also from Italy. This association did not survive the Second World War. But two members of the association, Dr Stampa, Head of the Swiss Federal Status Office, and Mr Van Praag, Secretary General of the city of The Hague, were convinced that a new cooperative initiative was necessary and that it could only be successful if this cooperation were organised at the level of states, rather than between individual civil status registrars.
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