Completion of the new Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults

A Special Diplomatic Commission of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, meeting at the Peace Palace from 20 September 1999 until 2 October 1999, drew up a new international convention for the protection in cross-border situations of adults who, by reason of an impairment or insufficiency of their personal faculties, are not in a position to protect their interests. The Convention on the International Protection of Adults is the major contribution of the Hague Conference to the year designated by the General Assembly of the United Nations as the International Year of Older Persons. The new Convention reflects and applies in a practical way the principles of independence, care, self-fulfilment and the dignity of the older person.
The aging of the world's population, combined with greater international mobility, has created the need for improved international protection for vulnerable adults by means of legal regulation and international co-operation. Reform of the law concerning the protection of incapacitated adults has been occurring in many national systems. But the issues of protection associated with the process of aging do not stop at State borders. The increasing tendency for retired persons to move to warmer countries, leaving the bulk of their property behind, sometimes acquiring a home in the new country and sometimes making advance arrangements for their care or representation in the event of incapacity, has made it essential to have clear rules specifying which national authorities are competent to take any necessary protective measures. There may be a need to ensure the recognition and enforcement of such measures in other States. Which national law should be applied in deciding on appropriate measures, taking into account in particular the wishes of the adult, needs to be decided. The question of who may represent the adult, and with what powers, arises. Where an adult has made advance arrangements for his/her care and representation in the event of incapacity, the question of the validity of these arrangements in the new country of residence has to be resolved. The new Hague Convention addresses all these and other issues.
As with several other recent Hague Conventions, the new Convention contains provisions concerning co-operation between States designed to enhance the protection of incapacitated adults. The system of co-operation, which is flexible and enables use of existing channels, includes information exchange, the facilitation of agreed solutions in contested cases, and the location of missing adults.