4th Meeting of the Special Commission on the Hague Convention

NORDIC ADOPTION COUNCIL July 2015 Birgitta Löwstedt
"20 years of the 1993 Hague Convention”

The objective of the 4th Special Commission (SC) was to review the practical operation of the 1993 Hague Convention; in the light of the 20 years that have passed since its birth. The discussions included presentations by some experts and some 'round table' sessions to introduce certain topics. After each presentation and round table sessions, there was time for discussions, questions and comments. Special for this year: A preparatory meeting was held on Saturday 6th June, for new States parties to the convention and for those States seriously considering ratification of, or accession to, the Convention. 19 States participated, with totally 33 experts. It was very successful and appreciated by participants.

Participation 74 States participating and 19 intergovernmental and international NGOs. (255 participants). A few States were represented only by their Embassies in the Netherlands or Belgium, but most States were represented by relevant persons from the Central Authorities and/or relevant Ministries. Some of the NGOs: UNICEF – represented by Nigel Cantwell ISS – represented by (among others) Hervé Boechat, Cécile Jeannin, Mia Dambach APIAF (Asia Pacific International Adoption Forum) – Wendy Hawke CBSS (Council of the Baltic Sea States) – Turid Heiberg DCI (Defence for Children International) – 6 delegates who altered every day. IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Association) – Lisa Ellingson NACAC (North American Council on Adoptable Children) – Susan Cox RELAC-ADOP (Red latinoamericana de Cooperación en el ámbito de la Adopción – Raquel Morales Ibáñez and Delia Del-Gatto. EurAdopt – represented by Maria Doré Nordic Adoption Council – represented by Birgitta Löwstedt Invited experts: Former HCCH Secretary General Hans van Loon, Former HCCH Deputy Secretary General William Duncan, Mme Alphonsine Sawadogo-Ouedraogo, Peter Selman, David Smolin.

Overall impression Constructive and cooperative atmosphere in all discussions throughout the week. This was a big difference in comparison with the almost aggressive tone in some discussions in 2010. The reason is mainly the dramatic decrease in numbers of adoptions to all Receiving States (RS). 2010 was the 'peak' and there were many concerns around illicit practices, unethical adoption agencies, etc etc. This year, the focus was on how do we - all stakeholders in the process – respond to the changes and how can we improve our work on all levels; before, during and after the adoption. Especially as most of the adoptions nowadays are children with special needs.The understanding of the importance of AABs – and also an understanding of the difficulties that we are going through was clear and many CAs expressed a rather supportive approach towards AABs and a worry for how we will survive in this 'changing landscape'. It was also said that AABs today need an even stronger capacity than before, to meet the support of the PAPs before, under and after the adoption procedure – as almost all children adopted have some kind of special need. All through the week the words prevention and coordination were mentioned; together with the importance of better preparation of PAPs and children to be adopted - and of course monitoring of all stakeholders involved. All States are encouraged to try to limit or prohibit private adoptions. The general feeling is that the States of Origin spoke with even more powerful voice during this SC than in 2010. The Latin American countries are very united – as they were already 2010 - and this year the francophone States of Origin (a number of African countries + Haiti) showed the same united and strong front. This unity has been possible mainly thanks to the Representative for Latin America at the Hague Secretariat (Ignacio Goicochea) and the French speaking 'Hague Expert' (Alphonsine Sawadogo Ouedraogo). The African States presented a Declaration on the need to develop a harmonized framework for the adoption of children in Africa. (= working document no 6 E - attached).

UNICEF (Nigel Cantwell) – made a statement the last day: 'I want to make a clarifying statement regarding the application of the subsidiarity principle. UNICEF remains supportive to intercountry adoptions when it takes place according to the 1993 Hague Convention.'

You find the Conclusions and Recommendations adopted by the Fourth Meeting of the Special Commission on the practical operation of the 1993 Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention here: The document gives quite a comprehensive picture of the discussions during the week..