The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption
The process of working out a draft convention on protection of children and co-operation in respect of intercountry adoption was begun in 1988 by the Hague Conference on International Private Law. The aim of the decision was to implement Article 21 e) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which appeals States to reach bilateral or multilateral agreements or arrangements concerning international adoption.
Although it comes from an organisation which is external to the United Nations, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, adopted on 10 May 1993 (hereinafter the Hague Convention) is inspired by two UN instruments. The United Nations Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally of 3 December 1986 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989.
The Hague Convention is not aimed at creating new rights for children, rather at establishing co-operation between States parties involved in international adoption.
To ensure the widest participation during the drafting, and also the future treaty’s maximum efficiency, the debate was opened to non-member states of the Conference where adopted children generally come from. The Conference convened a special Commission which met between 1990 and 1992. Successive preliminary drafts evolved significantly: positively in certain respects, with the inclusion of concepts such as the respect of the child’s fundamental rights and the prohibition of contacts between the child and his or her future adoptive parents before any adoption proceedings take place;
negatively, however, in other respects with a provision allowing individuals and entities other than authorised intermediaries to intervene in the organisation of an international adoption.
In accordance with present international law, the Convention applies to any child whose international adoption agreement was approved before he or she reaches the age of eighteen years (art. 3).
Up to 16 January 1995 the Hague Convention had been signed by 8 States and ratified by Mexico and Romania. This treaty has three main features. Firstly it reinforces the protection of children’s rights in respect of, and around international adoption. Secondly, it establishes a mechanism for co-operation between States in this particular sphere. Thirdly it ensures the recognition of adoptions certified according to the Convention.
The Reinforcement of Children’s Rights
Right from the start the Preamble and Article 1 of the Hague Convention establish the framework in which the instrument shall be interpreted and applied. In particular, its objective is “to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights as recognised in international law (art. 1 a ).
In this manner the Hague Convention confirms that international adoption is a field of action that has to fit in with the rights of the child from the beginning to the end of the proceedings. The adoption of a child relinquished by foreign parents cannot be considered unless it is in keeping with the best interests of the child and if it can be carried out in conformity with the child’s fundamental rights. These two conditions henceforth are cumulative and inseparable.
The most sensitive point, which tainted many adoptions and gave rise to the drafting of this Convention is mentioned straightaway: the prevention of the abduction, the sale of; or traffic in children by respecting these safeguards and by establishing a system of co-operation amongst States (art. 1 b ).
To obtain the application of children’s rights the Hague Convention imposes a certain number of measures and verifications on States to be undertaken at different stages of the proceedings:
a. It enumerates the order of priorities for the protection of children:
*first of all, to provide appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin (Preamble, paragraph 3); it this were to fail,
*to establish that the child is adoptable ( art. 4 a );
*to determine whether the child can be placed or adopted in his or her country of origin (art. 4 b ); otherwise,
*to ensure that an intercountry adoption is “in the child’s best interests” (art. 4 b ).
b. It specifically describes the other essential element which is the protection of the biological link between the child and his or her parents, i.e., the consent of authorised persons (cf. art. 4 c) and d), the latter dealing with the child’s consent). Furthermore, to ensure that the different decisions given in Article 4 be taken with complete freedom, the Hague Convention prohibits all contact between prospective adoptive parents and biological parents and any other persons who have custody of the child; such contact can only take place after the proceedings provided for in Article 4 a) to c) have been completed, and once it is determined that “the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suited to adopt”;
c. Lastly, the Hague Convention encourages States to establish a system for the control of expenses and professional fees due to international adoptions, and confirms the condemnation of “improper financial gain” (art. 8 and 32). However it does not make a provision for sanctions to be applied to offenders.
In order to ensure the optimum protection of children in international adoptions, the Hague Convention provides States with a system of co-operation which consists of the designation of central authorities and the establishment of an international procedure, and includes the control of accredited bodies.
Every State party to the Hague Convention must designate a Central Authority “to discharge the duties which are imposed by the Convention” (art. 6). This concept is not a new one; central authorities already exist for other spheres such as the application of the Hague Convention on the Civilian Aspects of Child Abduction of 25 October 1980.
The Central Authority’s responsibilities consist of. both the application of the Convention in the country as well as the smooth co-operation between countries involved in international adoption. The Central Authority shall ensure that all proper measures be taken when any provision of the Convention has not been respected or many seriously risk not being respected in the application of the Hague Convention, moreover, any “competent authority” shall inform the Central Authority of this (art. 33).
Some of the functions entrusted to the Central Authority may be delegated to “public authorities or other bodies duly accredited”(art. 9 and 10). The Hague Convention does not give any details, however it seems that the term “public authorities” may include courts, official services for the protection of children or for adoption, immigration departments, passport offices, etc. In spite of the distribution of functions, the contracting State remains responsible for any violation of the Convention.
The proceedings leading to the adoption of a foreign child are specifically described in the Hague Convention. It should be applied in the light of and in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Convention:
*a report with relevant information shall be prepared relating to the child as well as his or her prospective adoptive parents (art. 15 and 16);
*the consent of the biological parents or any other competent person, and if need be, that of the child, must have been obtained (art. 5);
*prospective adoptive parents “have been counselled as may be necessary” and considered “eligible and suited to adopt” (art. 17);
*the authorities of the State of origin shall determine whether the envisaged placement is in the best interests of the child (art. 16 d );
*the prospective adoptive parents must agree (art. 17 a );
*the child shall have received authorisation to leave his or her country of origin and to reside permanently in the receiving State;
*the identity of the biological parents shall be protected in cases where, in the State of origin, these identities may not be disclosed (art. 16, paragraph 2).
Once all these requirements have been met, and if the Central Authorities of the two States concerned agree that the proceedings be carried through, the final adoption decision will be taken in the country of origin or in the State receiving the child, according to applicable legislation (art. 2 and 28). At all stages the Central Authorities of the two States concerned should facilitate the exchange of information and keep each other informed on the progress of the adoption proceedings (art. 9 and 20).
If difficulties were to arise in the State of origin during placement prior to the adoption of the child, alternative long-term care shall be arranged in consultation with the Central Authority of the State of origin (art. 21).
Control of Intermediaries
The Hague Convention establishes that every Central Authority may delegate certain functions to public authorities or accredited bodies, “to the extent permitted by law” (art. 21, see also art. 9). When applying Chapter II (Requirements for Intercountry Adoptions), the “competent authorities” still retain a mandate for ensuring that the child is adoptable, that consent has been given according to the established conditions, that prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suitable to adopt, and that the child will be authorised to enter and reside permanently in the receiving State (art. 4 and 5).
Although the State controls public authorities by definition, often private services are the bodies that are active in adoption. That is why it is necessary to control their competence and operations. There are precise requirements for those “bodies” in order to obtain and maintain their accreditation: to be capable of properly carrying out the tasks with which they may be entrusted; pursue only non-profit objectives; to be directed by persons qualified by their ethical standards and their training; to be subject to supervision by competent authorities (art. 11 and 12). These conditions apply both to the granting and the renewal of the accreditation; they are the basis of the control these bodies shall be subject to. An accredited body in a Contracting State may act in another Contracting State only if the authorities of both States have authorised it to do so (art.12).
The delegation of functions by the Central Authority may be quite vast because it includes the set of tasks described in Articles 15 to 21 of the Hague Convention. Furthermore, Article 22 of the Convention makes this delegation possible not only to accredited bodies, but also other entities or persons over whom there is less strict control and who are not subject to the non-profit requirement (read art. 22 paragraph 2 and art. 1l together).
The entities or persons other than the “accredited bodies” cannot however establish the reports on prospective parents and adoptable children (art. 22, paragraph 5).
The State concerned shall declare the intervention of these “services” with the depository of the Convention (which is the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands); it shall also have the obligation to keep the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law informed of the names and addresses of these bodies or persons (art. 22 paragraphs 3 and 4). On the other hand, a contracting State may declare to the depository of the Convention that it will not co-operate with such services when dealing with the adoption of children residing in its territory (art. 22 paragraph 4).
In the case of a government not wishing to intervene in adoption proceedings it considers “private matters”, or that seldom occur, the Central Authority could be a purely administrative body. Other structures would take over extremely important functions for the respect of children’s rights and successful adoptions, in particular accredited bodies in the sense of Article 11 of the Hague Convention: preparation of reports, verification of the consent and of the benefits of the placement envisaged, contacts with bodies in charge of adoption cases in the children’s and prospective adoptive parents’ countries of origin.
Indeed other “private” services feel their possibilities for action are diminished in relation to those by accredited bodies (they do not have the right to prepare reports
on the children and prospective adoptive parents); nevertheless they may have the prerogative of being able to determine that an adoption abroad corresponds to the child’s best interests.
This delegation of functions, which several international non-governmental organisations fought against in vain, among them Defence for Children-International (DCI), is tempered, however, by the fact that any State party can object to the intervention of these bodies and private persons on their territory (art. 22 paragraph 3). It is therefore necessary that this clause is well understood by national authorities in charge of ratifying and applying the Hague Convention and they should be encouraged to make an objection in this respect.
Recognition of Adoptions
A certified adoption in accordance with the Hague Convention will be automatically recognised by the other contracting States (art. 23) unless it “is manifestly contrary to its public policy”, that is, if it runs counter to the fundamental principles of this State
The recognition of the adoption includes:
*the legal parent-child relationship between the child and his or her adoptive parents;
*the parental responsibility of the adoptive parents for the child;
*the termination of a pre-existing legal relationship between the child and his or her mother and father (art. 26).
If this relation is not terminated, the conversion from a “simple” to a complete adoption is possible in the receiving State under certain conditions (art. 27).
Although these have been placed at the end of the Hague Convention, these provisions contain important safeguards for the rights of the child, some of which have already been mentioned:
*the prohibition of contact between the prospective adoptive parents and any person responsible for the child (art. 29);
*the control of the costs of adoption (costs, expenses and professional fees), and the prohibition of any material gain (art. 32);
*control of the operation of the Convention; information on, prevention of or reaction to irregularities (art. 33);
The information concerning the child’s origin will be held for the child for his or her future access (art. 30); this data shall be made available only for the ends stated in Article 30 (art. 31).
The State ratifying the Hague Convention cannot emit any reservation whatsoever (art. 40). States may, under certain conditions, reach bilateral agreements in order to foster the application of the Convention (art. 39 paragraph 2). The Convention will enter into force three months after its ratification by three States (art. 46); it shall only apply to relations between contracting States. Finally, the Hague Conference of Private International Law will periodically convene a special commission which will examine the practical operation of the Convention (art. 42).
The Hague Convention
on the Protection of Children and Co-operation
in Respect of Intercountry Adoption
The States signatory to the present Convention,
Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding,
Recalling that each State should take, as a matter of priority, appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin,
Recognizing that intercountry adoption may offer the advantage of a permanent family to a child for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her State of origin,
Convinced of the necessity to take measures to ensure that intercountry adoptions are made in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights, and to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children,
Desiring to establish common provisions to this effect, taking into account the principles set forth in international instruments, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of 20 November 1989, and the United Nations Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally (General Assembly
Resolution 41/85, 3 December 1986)
Have agreed upon the following provisions:
SCOPE OF THE CONVENTION
1. The objects of the present Convention are:
a) to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights as recognized in international law;
b) to establish a system of co-operation amongst Contracting States to ensure that those safeguards are respected and thereby prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic in children;
c) to secure the recognition in Contracting States of adoptions made in accordance with the Convention.
2. 1. The Convention shall apply where a child habitually resident in one Contracting State (?the State of origin’) has been, is being, or is to be moved to another Contracting State (?the receiving State’) either after his or her adoption in the State of origin by spouses or a person habitually resident in the receiving State, or for the purposes of such an adoption in the receiving State or in the State of origin.
2. The Convention covers only adoptions which create a permanent parent-child relationship.
3. The Convention ceases to apply if the agreements mentioned in Article 17, sub-paragraph c), have not been given before the child attains the age of eighteen years.
REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
4. An adoption within the scope of the Convention shall take place only if the competent authorities of the State of origin:
a) have established that the child is adoptable;
b) have determined, after possibilities for placement of the child within the State of origin have been given due consideration, that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests;
c) have ensured that
- the persons, institutions and authorities whose consent is necessary for adoption, have been counselled as may be necessary and duly informed of the effects of their consent, in particular whether or not an adoption will result in the termination of the legal relationship between the child and his or her family of origin,
- such persons, institutions and authorities have given their consent freely, in the required legal form, and expressed or evidenced in writing,
- the consents have not been induced by payment or compensation of any kind and have not been withdrawn, and
- the consent of the mother, where required, has been given only after the birth of the child; and
d) have ensured, having regard to the age and degree of maturity of the child, that
- he or she has been counselled and duly informed of the effects of the adoption and of his or her consent to the adoption, where such consent is required,
- consideration has been given to the child’s wishes and opinions,
- the child’s consent to the adoption, where such consent is required, has been given freely, in the required legal form, and expressed or evidenced in writing, and
- such consent has not been induced by payment or compensation of any kind.
5. An adoption within the scope of the Convention shall take place only if the competent authorities of the receiving State:
a) have determined that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suited to adopt;
b) have ensured that the prospective adoptive parents have been counselled as may be necessary; and
c) have determined that the child is or will be authorized to enter and reside permanently in that State.
CENTRAL AUTHORITIES AND ACCREDITED BODIES
6. 1. A Contracting State shall designate a Central Authority to discharge the duties which are imposed by the Convention upon such authorities.
2. Federal States, States with more than one system of law or States having autonomous territorial units shall be free to appoint more than one Central Authority and to specify the territorial or personal extent of their functions. Where a State has appointed more than one Central Authority, it shall designate the Central Authority to which any communication may be addressed for transmission to the appropriate Central Authority within that State.
7. 1. Central Authorities shall co-operate with each other and promote co-operation amongst the competent authorities in their States to protect children and to achieve the other objects of the Convention.
2. They shall take directly all appropriate measures to:
a) provide information as to the laws of their States concerning adoption and other general information, such as statistics and standard forms;
b) keep one another informed about the operation of the Convention and, as far as possible, eliminate any obstacles to its application.
8. Central Authorities shall take, directly or through public authorities, all appropriate measures to prevent improper financial or other gain in connection with an adoption and to deter all practices contrary to the objects of the Convention.
9. Central Authorities shall take, directly or through public authorities or other bodies duly accredited in their State, all appropriate measures, in particular to:
a) collect, preserve and exchange information about the situation of the child and the prospective adoptive parents, so far as is necessary to complete the adoption;
b) facilitate, follow and expedite proceedings with a view to obtaining the adoption;
c) promote the development of adoption counselling and post-adoption services in their States;
d) provide each other with general evaluation reports about experience with intercountry adoption;
e) reply, in so far as is permitted by the law of their State, to justified requests from other Central Authorities or public authorities for information about a particular adoption situation.
10. Accreditation shall only be granted to and maintained by bodies demonstrating their competence to carry out properly the tasks with which they may be entrusted.
11. An accredited body shall:
a) pursue only non-profit objectives according to such conditions and within such limits as may be established by the competent authorities of the State of accreditation;
b) be directed and staffed by persons qualified by their ethical standards and by training or experience to work in the field of intercountry adoption; and
c) be subject to supervision by competent authorities of that State as to its composition, operation and financial situation.
12. A body accredited in one Contracting State may act in another Contracting State only if the competent authorities of both States have authorized it to do so.
13. The designation of the Central Authorities and, where appropriate, the extent of their functions, as well as the names and addresses of the accredited bodies shall be communicated by each Contracting State to the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS IN INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION
14. Persons habitually resident in a Contracting State, who wish to adopt a child habitually resident in another Contracting State, shall apply to the Central Authority in the State of their habitual residence.
15. 1. If the Central Authority of the receiving State is satisfied that the applicants are eligible and suited to adopt, it shall prepare a report including information about their identity, eligibility and suitability to adopt, background, family and medical history, social environment, reasons for adoption, ability to undertake an intercountry adoption, as well as the characteristics of the children for whom they would be qualified to care.
2. It shall transmit the report to the Central Authority of the State of origin.
16. 1. If the Central Authority of the State of origin is satisfied that the child is adoptable, it shall:
a) prepare a report including information about his or her identity, adoptability, background, social environment, family history, medical history including that of the child’s family, and any special needs of the child;
b) give due consideration to the child’s upbringing and to his or her ethnic, religious and cultural background;
c) ensure that consents have been obtained in accordance with Article 4; and
d) determine, on the basis in particular of the reports relating to the child and the prospective adoptive parents, whether the envisaged placement is in the best interests of the child.
2. It shall transmit to the Central Authority of the receiving State its report on the child, proof that the necessary consents have been obtained and the reasons for its determination on the placement, taking care not to reveal the identity of the mother and the father if, in the State of origin, these identities may not be disclosed.
17. Any decision in the State of origin that a child should be entrusted to prospective adoptive parents may only be made if:
a) the Central Authority of that State has ensured that the prospective adoptive parents agree;
b) the Central Authority of the receiving State has approved such decision, where such approval is required by the law of that State or by the Central Authority of the State of origin;
c) the Central Authorities of both States have agreed that the adoption may proceed; and
d) it has been determined, in accordance with Article 5, that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suited to adopt and that the child is or will be authorized to enter and reside permanently in the receiving State.
18. The Central Authorities of both States shall take all necessary steps to obtain permission for the child to leave the State of origin and to enter and reside permanently in the receiving State.
19. 1. The transfer of the child to the receiving State may only be carried out if the requirements of Article 17 have been satisfied.
2. The Central Authorities of both States shall ensure that this transfer takes place in secure and appropriate circumstances and, if possible, in the company of the adoptive or prospective adoptive parents.
3. If the transfer of the child does not take place, the reports referred to in Articles 15 and 16 are to be sent back to the authorities who forwarded them.
20. The Central Authorities shall keep each other informed about the adoption process and the measures taken to complete it, as well as about the progress of the placement if a probationary period is required.
21. 1. Where the adoption is to take place after the transfer of the child to the receiving State and it appears to the Central Authority of that State that the continued placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents is not in the child’s best interests, such Central Authority shall take the measures necessary to protect the child, in particular:
a) to cause the child to be withdrawn from the prospective adoptive parents and to arrange temporary care;
b) in consultation with the Central Authority of the State of origin, to arrange without delay a new placement of the child with a view to adoption or, if this is not appropriate, to arrange alternative long-term care; an adoption shall not take place until the Central Authority of the State of origin has been duly informed concerning the new prospective adoptive parents;
c) as a last resort, to arrange the return of the child, if his or her interests so require.
2. Having regard in particular to the age and degree of maturity of the child, he or she shall be consulted and, where appropriate, his or her consent obtained in relation to measures to be taken under this Article.
22. 1. The functions of a Central Authority under this Chapter may be performed by public authorities or by bodies accredited under Chapter III, to the extent permitted by the law of its State.
2. Any Contracting State may declare to the depositary of the Convention that the functions of the Central Authority under Articles 15 to 21 may be performed in that State, to the extent permitted by the law and subject to the supervision of the competent authorities of that State, also by bodies or persons who:
a) meet the requirements of integrity, professional competence, experience and accountability of that State; and
b) are qualified by their ethical standards and by training or experience to work in the field of intercountry adoption.
3. A Contracting State which makes the declaration provided for in paragraph 2 shall keep the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law informed of the names and addresses of these bodies and persons.
4. Any Contracting State may declare to the depositary of the Convention that adoptions of children habitually resident in its territory may only take place if the functions of the Central Authorities are performed in accordance with paragraph 1.
5. Notwithstanding any declaration made under paragraph 2, the reports provided for in Articles 15 and 16 shall, in every case, be prepared under the responsibility of the Central Authority or other authorities or bodies in accordance with paragraph 1.
RECOGNITION AND EFFECTS OF THE ADOPTION
23. 1. An adoption certified by the competent authority of the State of the adoption as having been made in accordance with the Convention shall be recognized by operation of law in the other Contracting States. The certificate shall specify when and by whom the agreements under Article 17, sub-paragraph c), were given.
2. Each Contracting State shall, at the time of signature, ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, notify the depositary of the Convention of the identity and the functions of the authority or the authorities which, in that State, are competent to make the certification. It shall also notify the depositary of any modification in the designation of these authorities.
24. The recognition of an adoption may be refused in a Contracting State only if the adoption is manifestly contrary to its public policy, taking into account the best interests of the child.
25. Any Contracting State may declare to the depositary of the Convention that it will not be bound under this Convention to recognize adoptions made in accordance with an agreement concluded by application of Article 39, paragraph 2.
26. 1. The recognition of an adoption includes recognition of:
a) the legal parent-child relationship between the child and his or her adoptive parents;
b) parental responsibility of the adoptive parents for the child;
c) the termination of a pre-existing legal relationship between the child and his or her mother and father, if the adoption has this effect in the Contracting State where it was made.
2. In the case of an adoption having the effect of terminating a pre-existing legal parent-child relationship, the child shall enjoy in the receiving State, and in any other Contracting State where the adoption is recognized, rights equivalent to those resulting from adoptions having this effect in each such State.
3. The preceding paragraphs shall not prejudice the application of any provision more favourable for the child, in force in the Contracting State which recognizes the adoption.
27. 1. Where an adoption granted in the State of origin does not have the effect of terminating a pre-existing legal parent-child relationship, it may, in the receiving State which recognizes the adoption under the Convention, be converted into an adoption having such an effect:
a) if the law of the receiving State so permits; and
b) if the consents referred to in Article 4, sub-paragraphs c) and d), have been or are given for the purpose of such an adoption.
2. Article 23 applies to the decision converting the adoption.
28. The Convention does not affect any law of a State of origin which requires that the adoption of a child habitually resident within that State take place in that State or which prohibits the child’s placement in, or transfer to, the receiving State prior to adoption.
29. There shall be no contact between the prospective adoptive parents and the child’s parents or any other person who has care of the child until the requirements of Article 4, sub-paragraphs a) to c), and Article 5, sub-paragraph a), have been met, unless the adoption takes place within a family or unless the contact is in compliance with the conditions established by the competent authority of the State of origin.
30. 1. The competent authorities of a Contracting State shall ensure that information held by them concerning the child’s origin, in particular information concerning the identity of his or her parents, as well as the medical history, is preserved.
2They shall ensure that the child or his or her representative has access to such information, under appropriate guidance, in so far as is permitted by the law of that State.
31. Without prejudice to Article 30, personal data gathered or transmitted under the Convention, especially data referred to in Articles 15 and 16, shall be used only for the purposes for which they were gathered or transmitted.
32. 1. No one shall derive improper financial or other gain from an activity related to an intercountry adoption.
2. Only costs and expenses, including reasonable professional fees of persons involved in the adoption, may be charged or paid.
3. The directors, administrators and employees of bodies involved in an adoption shall not receive remuneration which is unreasonably high in relation to services rendered.
33. A competent authority which finds that any provision of the Convention has not been respected or that there is a serious risk that it may not be respected, shall immediately inform the Central Authority of its State. This Central Authority shall be responsible for ensuring that appropriate measures are taken.
34. If the competent authority of the State of destination of a document so requests, a translation certified as being in conformity with the original must be furnished. Unless otherwise provided, the costs of such translation are to be borne by the prospective adoptive parents.
35. The competent authorities of the Contracting States shall act expeditiously in the process of adoption.
36. In relation to a State which has two or more systems of law with regard to adoption applicable in different territorial units:
a) any reference to habitual residence in that State shall be construed as referring to habitual residence in a territorial unit of that State;
b) any reference to the law of that State shall be construed as referring to the law in force in the relevant territorial unit;
c) any reference to the competent authorities or to the public authorities of that State shall be construed as referring to those authorized to act in the relevant territorial unit;
d) any reference to the accredited bodies of that State shall be construed as referring to bodies accredited in the relevant territorial unit.
37. In relation to a State which with regard to adoption has two or more systems of law applicable to different categories of persons, any reference to the law of that State shall be construed as referring to the legal system specified by the law of that State.
38. A State within which different territorial units have their own rules of law in respect of adoption shall not be bound to apply the Convention where a State with a unified system of law would not be bound to do so.
39. 1. The Convention does not affect any international instrument to which Contracting States are Parties and which contains provisions on matters governed by the Convention, unless a contrary declaration is made by the States Parties to such instrument.
2. Any Contracting State may enter into agreements with one or more other Contracting States, with a view to improving the application of the Convention in their mutual relations. These agreements may derogate only from the provisions of Articles 14 to 16 and 18 to 21. The States which have concluded such an agreement shall transmit a copy to the depositary of the Convention.
40. No reservation to the Convention shall be permitted.
41. The Convention shall apply in every case where an application pursuant to Article 14 has been received after the Convention has entered into force in the receiving State and the State of origin.
42. The Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law shall at regular intervals convene a Special Commission in order to review the practical operation of the Convention.
43. 1. The Convention shall be open for signature by the States which were Members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law at the time of its Seventeenth Session and by the other States which participated in that Session.
2. It shall be ratified, accepted or approved and the instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval shall be deposited with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, depositary of the Convention.
44. 1. Any other State may accede to the Convention after it has entered into force in accordance with Article 46, paragraph 1.
2. The instrument of accession shall be deposited with the depositary.
3. Such accession shall have effect only as regards the relations between the acceding State and those Contracting States which have not raised an objection to its accession in the six months after the receipt of the notification referred to in sub-paragraph b) of Article 48. Such an objection may also be raised by States at the time when they ratify, accept or approve the Convention after an accession. Any such objection shall be notified to the depositary.
45. 1. If a State has two or more territorial units in which different systems of law are applicable in relation to matters dealt with in the Convention, it may at the time of signature, ratification, acceptance, approval or accession declare that this Convention shall extend to all its territorial units or only to one or more of them and may modify this declaration by submitting another declaration at any time.
2. Any such declaration shall be notified to the depositary and shall state expressly the territorial units to which the Convention applies.
3. If a State makes no declaration under this Article, the Convention is to extend to all territorial units of that State.
46. 1. The Convention shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of three months after the deposit of the third instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval referred to in Article 43.
2. Thereafter the Convention shall enter into force:
a) for each State ratifying, accepting or approving it subsequently, or acceding to it, on the first day of the month following the expiration of three months after the deposit of its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession;
b) for a territorial unit to which the Convention has been extended in conformity with Article 45, on the first day of the month following the expiration of three months after the notification referred to in that Article.
47. 1. A State Party to the Convention may denounce it by a notification in writing addressed to the depositary.
2. The denunciation takes effect on the first day of the month following the expiration of twelve months after the notification is received by the depositary. Where a longer period for the denunciation to take effect is specified in the notification, the denunciation takes effect upon the expiration of such longer period after the notification is received by the depositary.
48. The depositary shall notify the States Members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the other States which participated in the Seventeenth Session and the States which have acceded in accordance with Article 44, of the following:
a) the signatures, ratifications, acceptances and approvals referred to in Article 43;
b) the accessions and objections raised to accessions referred to in Article 44;
c) the date on which the Convention enters into force in accordance with Article 46;
d) the declarations and designations referred to in Articles 22, 23, 25 and 45;
e) the agreements referred to in Article 39;
f ) the denunciations referred to in Article 47.
In witness whereof the undersigned, being duly authorized thereto, have signed this Convention.
Done at The Hague, on the 29th of May 1993, in the English and French languages, both texts being equally authentic, in a single copy which shall be deposited in the archives of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and of which a certified copy shall be sent, through diplomatic channels, to each of the States Members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law at the date of its Seventeenth Session and to each of the other States which participated in that Session.
The Hague Convention
on the Protection of Children and Co-operation
in Respect of Intercountry Adoption
States who have signed the Convention
Brazil: 29 May 1993
Costa Rica: 29 May 1993
Colombia: 1 September 1993
Uruguay: 1 September 1993
Israel: 2 November 1993
Netherlands: 5 December 1993
United Kingdom: 12 January 1994
United States: 31 March 1994
Canada: 12 April 1994
Finland: 19 January 1994
Burkina Faso: 19 January 1994
Ecuador: 3 May 1994
Peru: 16 November 1994
Cyprus: 17 November 1994
Switzerland: 16 January 1995
States who have ratified the Convention
Mexico: 14 September 1994
Romania: 28 January 1995
Sri Lanka: 23 January 1995