Family Law









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The legal protection of children and the family

The Council of Europe, an international organisation comprising the European parliamentary democracies, is endeavouring to keep a close watch on developments in member states in order to detect as soon as possible new needs and identify subjects suitable for co-operation at European level. Among these subjects, legal co-operation in the field of family law plays an important role, taking into account that it is dealing with issues closely linked to the private lives of all persons. On the other hand, it should also be borne in mind that some problems concerning the family cannot be solved only in a national framework because, by their very nature, they go beyond national frontiers (e.g. an improper removal of a child by a parent across a border).

Owing to the importance of these issues for members of families and for States, the Council of Europe has carried out an important number of activities in the field of legal protection of the family. Although difficulties arise in harmonising the many areas of family law owing to the varied legal systems and traditions, the Council of Europe has been working, for many years, to harmonise policies and adopt common standards and practices in member States in the field of family law.

The Council of Europe has contributed in a decisive manner to the strengthening of the legal protection of the family, in particular the legal protection of children (e.g. through the preparation of numerous international legal instruments, through its programmes and projects addressed to children, through the organisation of meetings and conferences to debate various issues including the most controversial issues in the field of family law).

Terms of reference