WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan have signed a legal framework to prevent international child abduction, the State Department announced on Thursday.

International parental child abduction is the removal or retention of a child outside their country of habitual residence in breach of another parent or guardian’s custody rights. The UN and human rights organisations regard this as child abuse and an extreme form of parental alienation.

According to the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), nearly 800,000 children are reported missing each year. That is more than 2,000 a day. The NCMEC says that 203,000 children are kidnapped each year by family members.

An official statement issued in Washington said that on July 1, the United States accepted Pakistan’s accession to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The convention is a multilateral treaty that establishes proceedings for the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed or kept away from their home country.

Currently, there are 98 contracting states to the Hague Convention.

The Convention will enter into force between the United States and Pakistan on Oct 1, and will put in place an internationally recognised legal framework to resolve cases of parental child abduction between the two countries.

“As partners, we will enhance our shared commitment to protecting children and open a new chapter in the vibrant US-Pakistan relationship,” the official US statement said.

The convention provides a mechanism under civil law in either country for parents seeking the return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside of their country of habitual residence in violation of custodial rights.