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However, the more precise legal usage of international child abduction originates in private international law and refers to the illegal removal of children from their home by an acquaintance or family member to a foreign country.In this context, "illegal" is normally taken to mean "in breach of custodial rights" and "home" is defined as the child's habitual residence.The response to these concerns was the coining of the term "international child abduction." The terms first prominent use was in the title of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.The term is not, however, used anywhere in the actual text of the convention itself in preference of the more technical terms "wrongful removal" or "wrongful retention" which were better suited for describing the mechanics of the Convention's system.
Of particularly special note, the drafters of the 1961 Convention expressly considered a provision addressing the removal of a child from their habitual residence with an intent to evade rightful jurisdiction—primarily for child custody reasons.
Today's international family law norms were heavily influenced by the concepts of domicile and nationality.
In Europe these ideas were refined during the nineteenth century by Italian politician, Pasquale Mancini, who believed matters of personal status were to be governed by the nationality of the person.
This first attempt to codify international child abduction failed due to an inability to agree on a definition or manner of describing the phenomenon, with a number of countries that adhered to the principle of nationality regulating personal child and family law unable to classify their nationals removing children from foreign countries to their home state as fraudulent evasion.
In actual cases of international child abduction, this lack of a specific provision on child abduction in the 1961 treaty resulted in countries regularly interpreting the "habitual residence" concept of the Convention in a manner that allowed parents to take children to a foreign country and immediately acquire "habitual residence." This allowed judicial forum shopping and created perverse incentives for removing children from their homes to foreign jurisdictions in order to game the family law system and obtain a more favorable custodial outcome than could be gained in the jurisdiction of the child's home.
Inspired by the Hague Evidence Convention and the Hague Service Convention's of 19, the Abduction Convention required the establishment of a single Central Authority in each country that would handle two-way communications with domestic courts, administrative agencies and foreign Central Authorities.