The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty that outlines the procedure for dealing with the cases of children alleged to have been abducted across international borders.
The document sets out situations in which the removal or retention of a child should be considered "wrongful".
One example is when a parent's right of custody is breached under the laws of the country in which the child lived before he or she was removed or retained.
The convention has 84 signatories, six of them Muslim-majority countries, although only one, Morocco, is in the Mena region.
Because Islamic countries in the Mena region operate primarily under sharia, child-custody cases are generally handled based on domestic laws. Under sharia, priority is generally given to the Muslim father, irrespective of his nationality, when the mother is a non-Muslim. Generally, a Muslim mother may be granted custody of girls under 9 and boys under 7.
* Jen Thomas