U.S.-Brazil Collaboration: A Turning Point in International Child Abduction

By Dr. Maurício Ejchel

Every year, the United States prepares an Action Report that analyzes the situation of international child abduction country by country, focusing on compliance with the Hague Convention. This annual report particularly assesses each country’s efforts and challenges in addressing these cases, with a specific emphasis on nations like Brazil, where patterns of noncompliance have been noted

Since the Convention’s implementation between these two nations in 2023, there have been significant issues with Brazil’s adherence to its provisions

The previous 2022 report has indicated that Brazil continued to demonstrate noncompliance, notably in the judicial system’s failure to implement and comply with the Convention’s provisions effectively. 

This failure resulted in 33 percent of requests for the return of abducted children remaining unresolved for over 12 months. Such ongoing noncompliance has been a consistent issue in the annual reports since 2006.

In response to this pattern of noncompliance, the U.S. Department of State has taken several actions to address and rectify these issues. High-ranking U.S. and Brazilian officials engaged in the 20th Annual U.S.-Brazil Consular and Migration Dialogue in August 2022, where the U.S. delegation emphasized the necessity of Brazil’s compliance with the Convention and the importance of expeditious procedures to resolve cases of international parental child abduction.

Further, in November 2022, the Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia met with the Director of the Brazilian Central Authority, who had launched a public awareness campaign to highlight the benefits of the Convention. This campaign represents a positive step towards better understanding and adherence to the Convention’s obligations.

In March 2023, the U.S. officials presented at a conference attended by Brazil’s International Hague Network Judges and key officials, focusing on the role of central authorities and best practices for Convention implementation. This conference was crucial in enhancing the understanding and effective application of the Convention among Brazilian judicial and private sector stakeholders.

The U.S. has consistently emphasized the need for Brazil to expedite the processing of Convention cases. Meetings in March and April 2023 with Brazilian judicial authorities underscored this necessity, highlighting the ongoing need for Brazilian-led efforts in this area. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia’s Consular Chief discussed these needs with the Chief of Staff of the incoming Chief Justice of Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court.

The U.S. Department of State’s actions culminated in May 2023 with the release of the 2023 Annual Report on International Child Abduction, which cited Brazil for its pattern of noncompliance during 2022. This was further reinforced by a demarche delivered by the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the U.S. Mission to Brazil, expressing concerns about Brazil’s persistent failure to comply with its Convention obligations and the delays in Convention cases within Brazil’s judiciary.

In contrast to these efforts, Brazil introduced Instrução Normativa (IN) 446/2022, aiming to address and rectify the issues of noncompliance. IN 446/2022 represents Brazil’s attempt to align its practices with the Convention’s requirements, focusing on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of handling international child abduction cases. 

This normative instruction signifies Brazil’s acknowledgment of the issues and its willingness to take steps towards resolving them. The bilateral efforts observed in 2023, including high-level dialogues, awareness campaigns, and judicial conferences, reflect a concerted effort to improve Brazil’s compliance with the Convention.

While Brazil used to show a pattern of noncompliance with the Hague Convention, the recent actions by the U.S. and the implementation of IN 446/2022 in Brazil mark a significant shift towards cooperation in addressing these issues. 

In 2023, there was a notable increase of nearly 18% in child return cases, coupled with a discernible shift in judicial understanding. This change reflects a growing awareness among judges of the critical need to improve outcomes in child abduction cases, demonstrating a deeper commitment to resolving these complex situations effectively. These developments, although in their initial phases, are crucial in fulfilling the Convention’s goals and safeguarding the interests of children in these complex international scenarios.


Dr. Mauricio Ejchel is a highly qualified international lawyer based in São Paulo, Brazil. He graduated from the Law School of the Catholic University of São Paulo and holds a postgraduate degree in International Relations. In 1995, Dr. Ejchel was admitted to the Brazilian Bar Association and went on to establish MF Ejchel International Advocacy in 1996.

As a well-known commentator on legal matters, Dr. Ejchel is an expert in family law, international divorce, and Hague child abduction cases. He has appeared on several Brazilian TV networks and is a columnist for Radio Justice, affiliated with the Brazilian Supreme Court. Dr. Ejchel’s in-depth knowledge of international legal affairs has earned him a reputation as a respected authority in the field.

Dr. Ejchel is also a prolific writer, having authored numerous legal articles in both Portuguese and English. His steadfast dedication to safeguarding the interests of his clients has earned him a reputation as an accomplished and proficient barrister in Brazil.

With over 27 years of legal experience, Dr. Ejchel provides strategic counseling, directs mediation, and manages complex cases. He has contributed to legal cases in several countries and provided expert opinions in foreign courts. Dr. Ejchel’s dedication to protecting the interests of his clients is at the core of his legal practice. He believes that realization is based on a deep understanding of the law, navigating the Judiciary, awareness of his client’s needs, and a dedication to providing legal services.