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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hague Convention Treaty on Recovery of International Child Support and H.R. 1896



Carmen Solomon-Fears
Specialist in Social Policy

Alison M. Smith
Legislative Attorney


It is often difficult, if not impossible, to enforce child support obligations in cases where the custodial parent and child live in one country and the noncustodial parent lives in another. The United States has not ratified a multilateral child support enforcement treaty dealing with this issue. P.L. 104-193 (enacted in 1996) established procedures for international enforcement of child support. Currently, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE, within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)) has reciprocal agreements regarding child support enforcement with 15 countries, including Australia, Canada (separate agreements with 9 of the 10 Canadian provinces and with all 3 Canadian territories), Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (referred to hereinafter as the Convention or Treaty) was adopted at the Hague Conference on Private International Law on November 23, 2007. The Convention contains procedures for processing international child support cases that are intended to be uniform, simple, efficient, accessible, and cost-free to U.S. citizens seeking child support in other countries. For many international cases, U.S. courts and state Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies already recognize and enforce child support obligations, whether or not the United States has a reciprocal agreement with the other country. However, many foreign countries will not enforce U.S. child support orders in the absence of a treaty obligation. The United States was the first country to sign the Convention. The other signatories are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Union, Norway, and Ukraine. However, the United States has not yet ratified the treaty.

Although it is not the Senate’s role to ratify treaties, it provides its advice and consent to a treaty’s provisions. On September 29, 2010, the U.S. Senate approved the Resolution of Advice and Consent regarding the Convention. According to OCSE, the following additional steps must occur before the Convention can enter into force for the United States:

• Congress must adopt, and there must be enacted, implementing legislation for the Convention.

• Pursuant to the implementing legislation, all states must enact the 2008 version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) by the effective date noted in the legislation. In addition, the implementing legislation would require states to make minor revisions to their CSE state plan.

• The President must sign the instrument of ratification for the Convention.

• Finally, after all these activities are completed, the United States will be able to deposit its instrument of ratification with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is the depository for the Convention. Once the Treaty is in force, it would apply to cases being worked between countries that are party to the Treaty.

H.R. 1896 (the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2013) was passed by the House on June 18, 2013, by a vote of 394-27. It would implement the Convention. H.R. 1896 would require the Secretary of HHS to use federal and, if necessary, state CSE methods to ensure compliance with any U.S. treaty obligations associated with any multilateral child support convention to which the United States is a party. H.R. 1896 would amend federal law so that the federal income tax refund offset program is available for use by a state to handle CSE requests from foreign reciprocating countries and foreign treaty countries. It would require states to adopt the 2008 amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) verbatim to ensure uniformity of procedures, requirements, and reporting forms. In addition, H.R. 1896 would provide for the development of a standard format for data exchange of CSE data. It would also allow certain researchers to use the National Directory of New Hires database with personal identifiers for the purposes of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or CSE programs or of evaluating whether federal reemployment programs are working as intended.


Date of Report: July 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R43109
Price: $29.95

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Hague Convention Treaty on Recovery of International Child Support and H.R. 1896



Carmen Solomon-Fears Specialist in Social Policy 
Alison M. Smith 
Legislative Attorney


It is often difficult, if not impossible, to enforce child support obligations in cases where the custodial parent and child live in one country and the noncustodial parent lives in another. The United States has not ratified a multilateral child support enforcement treaty dealing with this issue. P.L. 104-193 (enacted in 1996) established procedures for international enforcement of child support. Currently, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE, within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)) has reciprocal agreements regarding child support enforcement with 15 countries, including Australia, Canada (separate agreements with nine of the ten Canadian provinces and with all three Canadian territories), Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (referred to hereinafter as the Convention or Treaty) was adopted at the Hague Conference on Private International Law on November 23, 2007. The Convention contains procedures for processing international child support cases that are intended to be uniform, simple, efficient, accessible, and cost-free to U.S. citizens seeking child support in other countries. For many international cases, U.S. courts and state Child Support Enforcement (CSE) agencies already recognize and enforce child support obligations, whether or not the United States has a reciprocal agreement with the other country. However, many foreign countries will not enforce U.S. child support orders in the absence of a treaty obligation. The United States was the first country to sign the Convention. The other signatories are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Union, Norway, and Ukraine. However, the United States has not yet ratified the treaty.

Although it is not the Senate’s role to ratify treaties, it provides its advice and consent to a treaty’s provisions. On September 29, 2010, the U.S. Senate approved the Resolution of Advice and Consent regarding the Convention. According to OCSE, the following additional steps must occur before the Convention can enter into force for the United States:

• Congress must adopt, and there must be enacted, implementing legislation for the Convention.

• Pursuant to the implementing legislation, all states must enact the 2008 version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) by the effective date noted in the legislation. In addition, the implementing legislation would require states to make minor revisions to their CSE state plan.

• The President must sign the instrument of ratification for the Convention.

• Finally, after all these activities are completed, the United States will be able to deposit its instrument of ratification with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is the depository for the Convention. Once the Treaty is in force, it would apply to cases being worked between countries that are party to the Treaty.

H.R. 1896 (the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2013) was passed by the House on June 18, 2013, by a vote of 394-27. It would implement the Convention. H.R. 1896 would require the Secretary of HHS to use federal and, if necessary, state CSE methods to ensure 
compliance with any U.S. treaty obligations associated with any multilateral child support convention to which the United States is a party. H.R. 1896 would amend federal law so that the federal income tax refund offset program is available for use by a state to handle CSE requests from foreign reciprocating countries and foreign treaty countries. It would require states to adopt the 2008 amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) verbatim to ensure uniformity of procedures, requirements, and reporting forms. In addition, H.R. 1896 would provide for the development of a standard format for data exchange of CSE data. It would also allow certain researchers to use the National Directory of New Hires database with personal identifiers for the purposes of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or CSE programs or of evaluating whether federal reemployment programs are working as intended.


Date of Report: June 20, 2013
Number of Pages: 22
Order Number: R43109
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

International Crises and Disasters: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance Response Mechanisms


Rhoda Margesson
Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy

The majority of humanitarian emergencies worldwide stem from natural disasters or from conflicts. Congress has consistently supported humanitarian efforts as a means of responding to crises in the short term, taking the lead, and promoting a U.S. presence. Intervention results in varying amounts of relief and recovery assistance and can have an important impact not only on the relief operation itself but on broader foreign policy issues. In the 113th Congress, international humanitarian and refugee assistance is expected to continue to have a strong measure of bipartisan support, with key policy issues focused on budget priorities, levels and types of funding, the sources of other support available worldwide, and the ways in which operational assistance is delivered.

Factors that may impact decision-making include the type of humanitarian assistance required, the impact of conflict and refugee flows on stability in the region in question, and the role of neighboring countries in contributing to the relief effort. Examples of issues likely to remain of congressional interest include competing aid and budget priorities, reimbursing U.S. government agencies for their expenditures (to replenish the emergency accounts or other accounts that have been used to provide assistance), and civilian and military coordination, including the evolving role of the Department of Defense in humanitarian assistance. Other priorities may include an examination of the disparity between numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees worldwide and the available funding for these groups; physical protection of refugees and other vulnerable populations in addition to the protection of human rights; programs to address gender based violence; and the creation of durable solutions for displaced populations.

The President can provide emergency humanitarian assistance through several sources whose funding is authorized and appropriated by Congress. These are funds currently appropriated to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) through the International Disaster and Famine Assistance (IDA) account; U.S. Department of Agriculture food aid programs under P.L. 480 Food for Peace and Section 416 (b) of the Agriculture Act of 1949; the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) through the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund (ERMA) accounts; and funds appropriated to the Department of Defense, Overseas Humanitarian and Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) account.

In addition, the President has the authority to draw down defense equipment and direct military personnel to respond to disasters and provide space-available transportation on military aircraft and ships to private donors who wish to transport humanitarian goods and equipment in response to a disaster. Finally, the President can request other government agencies to assist within their capabilities. The FY2014 Foreign Operations budget request for global humanitarian accounts, which does not include OHDACA, totals $4.1 billion.

This report examines U.S. humanitarian assistance in international crises and disaster situations. It considers the sources and types of U.S. government aid, the response mechanisms of key U.S. agencies and departments, and possible issues for Congress—including competing aid and budget priorities, burdensharing and donor-fatigue, the transparency and efficacy of U.S. humanitarian assistance, consequences of such assistance, and potential links to broader U.S. foreign policy goals.





Date of Report: May 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RL33769
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Human Rights in China and U.S. Policy: Issues for the 113th Congress



Thomas Lum
Specialist in Foreign Affairs

This report examines human rights issues in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including ongoing rights abuses, legal reforms, and the development of civil society. Major events of the past year include the PRC leadership transition, the Wukan protests over land expropriation, the negotiations that allowed legal advocate Chen Guangcheng to leave China, and the Tibetan selfimmolations. Ongoing human rights problems include excessive use of force by public security forces, unlawful detention, torture of detainees, arbitrary use of state security laws against political dissidents and ethnic groups, coercive family planning practices, persecution of unsanctioned religious activity, state control of information, and mistreatment of North Korean refugees. Tibetans, Uighur Muslims, and Falun Gong adherents continue to receive especially harsh treatment. For additional information and policy options, see CRS Report R41007, Understanding China’s Political System; the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s Annual Report 2012; and the U.S. Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012.

China’s leadership transition has so far provided few indications of a fundamental policy shift on human rights. Nonetheless, many analysts refer to a legitimacy crisis and possible “turning point” after three decades of rapid but uneven economic growth. Some observers sense a shift in public attitudes from an emphasis on economic development and social stability to an eagerness for political reform that would have implications for human rights in China.

Although the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) opposes political pluralism, Chinese society has become more diverse and assertive. Non-governmental organizations are playing a larger role in providing social services and policy input. Social protests are frequent, numerous, and widespread. Economic, social, and demographic changes have given rise to labor unrest. PRC citizens have become increasingly aware of their legal rights, while emerging networks of lawyers, journalists, and activists have advanced the causes of many aggrieved individuals and groups. The media continues to push the boundaries of officially approved discourse, and the Internet has made it impossible for the government to restrict information as fully as before. Some Chinese refer to microblog (weibo) sites as the most important public sphere for free speech.

The PRC government has attempted to respond to some popular grievances, develop the legal system, and cautiously support the expansion of civil society. However, it continues to suppress many activists who try to organize mass protests and dissidents who openly question sensitive policies or call for fundamental political change. Many lawyers who take on politically sensitive cases face government reprisals.

Some notable changes to the PRC criminal justice system were announced in the past year. Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law, which are to go into effect in 2013, reportedly provide for greater protections against torture and coerced confessions, expanded access to legal defense, longer trial deliberations, mandatory appellate hearings, more rigorous judicial review, and greater government oversight of the legal process. In January 2013, the government stated that it planned reforms related to the notorious Re-education Through Labor camps, which hold citizens without trial for non-criminal offenses. Some experts caution that, given China’s weak legal system, it is too early to predict whether these reforms will result in significant improvements in rights protections in these areas.



Date of Report: May 6, 2013
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R43000
Price: $29.95

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