DCI – Hague convention on the protection of Children

Defence for Children International

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.

Introduction – by Marie Francoise Lucker


The Reinforcement of

children’s rights

Recognition of Adoptions
General provisions


Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of

Intercountry Adoption – Text

The whole document

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