International surrogacy arrangements and the drafting of 'Principles for a better protection of children’s rights'

The International Social Service (ISS), together with a group of experts, are currently in the process of discussing the need for national and international child-focused responses to surrogacy arrangements.

This first meeting of the Experts' Group, which happened in May 2017 in Verona, was attended by 30 experts and observers from governments, academic institutions, civil society as well as international organisations including among others the Council of Europe, the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, UN Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children and UNICEF. The Experts' Group represented various regions, including States and non-governmental organisations which have different approaches to national and international surrogacy arrangements.

The purpose of this meeting was to review a working document proposing "Principles for better protection of children's rights in the context of surrogacy". The Experts' Group agreed a few key messages providing the framework for the process of drafting the principles. These key messages include:

  • They acknowledged the disparate national approaches to surrogacy and the concerns relating to surrogacy arrangements including, the potential for exploitation of children, women and intending parents;
  • States must prohibit surrogacy arrangements constituting the sale of children and should create safeguards to ensure that the sale of children does not occur in the context of surrogacy;
  • The rights of all children, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth, must be protected and children must never be punished based on the circumstances of their birth;
  • Surrogacy prohibitions (when they exist at national level) must not be enforced through the denial of rights to surrogate-born children. Even when surrogacy arrangements violate the Principles and/or national policies on surrogacy, the Principles will permit States to grant intending parents parentage and/or parental responsibility, so long as such is done in the context of individualised post-birth consideration of the best interests and rights of the child, and of the rights of surrogate mothers;
  • All children have a right to a nationality, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth and States have an obligation to prevent statelessness.

For more information, you may contact ISS directly at: Mia.dambach@iss-ssi.org or +41 789 24 09 74

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