Outline of the 1993 Hague Convention


Intercountry adoption is a relatively recent phenomenon. It expanded slowly after World War II, until the 1970s, when the numbers increased considerably. By the 1980s, it was recognised that this phenomenon was creating serious and complex human and legal problems and the absence of existing domestic and international legal instruments indicated the need for a multilateral approach.

It was in this context that the Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (“1993 Hague Convention” or “Convention”) was developed to establish safeguards which ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for the child’s fundamental rights.

The 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 for whom a suitable family cannot be found in his or her country of origin.

By setting out clear procedures and prohibiting improper financial gain, the Convention provides greater security, predictability and transparency for all parties to the adoption, including prospective adoptive parents.

The Convention also establishes a system of co-operation between authorities in countries of origin and receiving countries, designed to ensure that intercountry adoption takes place under conditions which help to guarantee the best adoption practices and elimination of abuses.

The 1993 Hague Convention gives effect to Article 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by adding substantive safeguards and procedures to the broad principles and norms laid down in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The 1993 Convention establishes minimum standards, but does not intend to serve as a uniform law of adoption. While making the rights and interests of the child paramount, it also respects and protects the rights of families of origin and adoptive families.

The Convention makes clear that receiving States and States of origin must share the burdens and benefits of regulating intercountry adoptions. It sets out clearly which functions within the adoption process are to be performed by each State.

Principal features of the Convention

  • The best interests of the child are paramount
  • Subsidiarity principle
  • Safeguards to protect children from abduction, sale and trafficking
  • Automatic recognition of adoption decisions
  • Competent authorities, Central Authorities and accredited bodies 

For further information on the 1993 Hague Convention look at:   www.hcch.net

Guide to Good Practice No.1 

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Published: Friday, 08 January 2016 11:49
Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2017 12:09