The Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Intercountry Adoption Convention) celebrates its 20th anniversary today. Negotiations on the final text of the Convention were concluded on 29 May 1993, at a Diplomatic Session convened at the Peace Palace in The Hague and attended by 66 countries.
For the past 20 years, the number of States Parties to the Intercountry Adoption Convention has grown at an unprecedented rate in the history of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Ninety States are now party to the Convention, including both States from which adopted children originate and States which receive adopted children from abroad. The resulting balance has undoubtedly been crucial to the success of the Convention. The Intercountry Adoption Convention recognises that growing up in a family is of primary importance and is essential for the happiness and healthy development of the child. It also recognises that intercountry adoption may offer the advantage of a permanent family to a child who cannot be raised in his / her biological family and for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her country of origin. The Convention has the following primary objectives to:
- establish minimum standards for the protection of children who are the subject of intercountry adoption. In particular, the Convention reinforces and augments the broad principles set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by adding substantive safeguards and procedures to these principles;
- establish a system of co-operation amongst States Parties to ensure effective and efficient protection of those children; prevent the abduction, sale, or traffic in children, and to eliminate profiteering and other abuses associated with intercountry adoption;
- secure the automatic recognition of adoptions made in accordance with the Convention by all States Parties.
The Intercountry Adoption Convention depends, for its efficacy and in order to achieve its aims, on a proper implementation and practical operation by each and every State Party. The Hague Conference strives to assist States in this regard, often in partnership with other organisations such as UNICEF and International Social Service. In particular, the Hague Conference’s Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Programme (ICATAP) provides requesting States (often those with developing economies, and, sometimes, those struck by emergency situations, such as natural disasters) with much-needed support and guidance on the implementation and operation of the Hague Convention.
The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference wishes to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all those Convention “actors” (including, but not limited to, the governments, Central Authorities, competent authorities, including the courts and judiciary, adoption accredited bodies, social workers, and (international) organisations) who, on a daily basis, work so hard to realise the objectives which the drafters of the Intercountry Adoption Convention set out to achieve some 20 years ago. The Permanent Bureau encourages these actors to continue co-operating in order to ensure that the rights and interests of adoptable and adopted children / persons are paramount, and that the rights of families of origin and adoptive families are also respected and protected.