International Laws and Standards

 

A Compilation of International Standards

INTRODUCTION

This chapter aims to introduce the rights and the set of guiding principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which international governments have acceded to. A child is defined by the convention as a person below the age of 18. This convention encompasses the complete range of international human rights that can be covered with respect to a child.

A: GUIDING PRINCIPLES & RIGHTS

1. Non-Discrimination (Article 2): The Convention applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities; whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis.

2. Best interests of the child (Article 3): The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children.

3. Right to life, survival and development (Article 6): Children have the right to live. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.

B: FOUR PROVISIONS

1. Survival and development rights5: the basic rights to life, survival and development of one’s full potential

2. Protection rights: keeping safe from harm

3. Participation rights: having an active voice

4. Human rights provisions: Children and young people have the same basic general human rights as adults and also specific rights that recognize their specific needs

C: DEFINING CHILD ADOPTION

Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person’s biological or legal parent or parents, and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents.

D: ROLE OF ONETrack International

The primary role of ONETrack is to place orphaned children in households of surviving relatives while ensuring that these children receive their basic rights to education and healthcare within a secure family environment.

 

INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION

A: INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION LAWS

Numerous International adoption laws are in place to ensure that the welfare of the children are prioritized. The purpose of such laws are to uphold and attain the fundamental goals of advancing the rights of a child. Several of these laws are listed in the section below.

B: THE HAGUE CONVENTION OF INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION

The Hague Convention or The 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption was developed to ensure that the best interest of a child is safeguarded and that the respect for the child’s fundamental rights are upheld during inter-country adoptions.

C: OTHER RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION

 

Inter-country Adoption Act

The Inter-country Adoption Act was passed in 2000 to help regulate the implementation of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation within the United States.

These purposes include:

  • the protection of the rights of and prevention against abuses of children birth families and adoptive parents involved in adoptions (and prospective adoptions) subject to the Convention and to ensure that such adoptions are in the children’s best interests.
  • to improve the ability of the Federal Government to assist United States citizens seeking to adopt children from abroad and residents of other countries party to the Convention seeking to adopt children from the United States.

 

The Inter-country Adoption Universal Accreditation Act 2012 (UAA)

This act requires all international adoption agencies to be accredited in order for them to continue operations, ensuring that all service providers adhere to the same standards as the federal standards in the United States.

Previously, only child service providers that operate in countries that are party to the Hague Convention of Inter-country Adoption were required to be accredited, and so, agencies operating in countries that are not members of the convention were not required to be accredited and could continue providing child adoption services. However, under the UAA, any entity providing child adoption services to/from any country requires accreditation.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s webpage, if entities provide the following six specific services, these entities are required to be accredited:

1. Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption.

2. Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption.

3. Performing a background check on a child, or a home study on prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study.

4. Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for a child.

5. Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or

6. When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) childcare or any other social service pending an alternative placement.

 

United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961)

The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961) was enacted to address the occurrence of statelessness and complements the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. The Convention gives effect to article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognizes that “everyone has the right to a nationality.” This Convention was adopted on the 30th August 1961 and was effective on the 13th December 1975.

Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Convention states that:

“If the law of a Contracting State entails loss of nationality as a consequence of any change in the personal status of a person such as marriage, termination of marriage, legitimation, recognition or adoption, such loss shall be conditional upon possession or acquisition of another nationality.”

 

Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, and Recognition of decrees relating to adoptions (1965)

This Convention was drafted to establish provisions on jurisdiction, applicable law and recognition of decrees relating to adoption. The Convention lays down the basic principles to ensure the interest of the child to be prioritized. This is stated in Article 6 of this Convention:

Article 6:

The authorities referred to in the first paragraph of Article 3 shall not grant an adoption unless it will be in the interest of the child. Before granting an adoption they shall carry out, through the agency of the appropriate local authorities, a thorough inquiry relating to the adopter or adopters, the child and his family. As far as possible, this inquiry shall be carried out in cooperation with public or private organizations qualified in the field of inter-country adoptions and the help of social workers having special training or having particular experience concerning the problems of adoption.

 

United Nations Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children

This Convention was adopted by the General Assembly on the 3rd December 1986 and was drafted for the “Conscious of the need to proclaim universal principles to be taken into account in cases where procedures are instituted relating to foster placement or adoption of a child, either nationally or internationally.”

As stated in Article 4:

“When care by the child’s own parents is unavailable or inappropriate, care by relatives of the child’s parents, by another substitute – foster or adoptive – family or, if necessary, by an appropriate institution should be considered”.

 

United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

There are three Optional Protocols that are relevant to the adoption of children:

– Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement

of children in armed conflict

– Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

– Optional Protocol to the Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

 

Human Rights Principles

Human Rights Principles are a set of guiding principles that are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. It should also be noted that the UDHR is the basis of other international agreements that are legally binding to members who ratify them.

– Universality and Inalienability
As stated in Article 1 of the UDHR, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”, everyone is entitled to their own rights.

– Indivisibility
Human rights are indivisible. Human rights are applicable to all sectors of society from economic to cultural rights. The status of one right does not take precedence over any other.

– Interdependence and Interrelatedness
Human rights are interdependent and interrelated with each other. The fulfillment of one right depends on the fulfillment of other human rights and the accumulation of the fulfillment of all rights will inherently contribute to the overall realization of  a person’s human dignity.

– Equality and Non-discrimination
Articles 2 & 7 of the UDHR covers the fact that despite various orientations, human dignity should still remain inherent and intact within each human being.

– Participation and Inclusion
Every human being has the inherent right to participate and have access to information that is related to their well-being and decision-making process including that of protecting their rights. This right is covered in Articles 7, 19 & 27.  In order for these rights to be fulfilled, the participation of the government, communities, civil society and other identified groups is required regarding the respective issues.

– Accountability and Rule of Law
The governments of member states should be held accountable for their obligation to uphold human rights as set out in the UDHR. Even though the UDHR is not a treaty, and therefore not legally binding, member states should still be responsible for the observance of these fundamental human rights and freedoms. Civil society, the media, the international community, individuals and other actors should participate in holding the state accountable to their responsibility in upholding human rights.

 


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Host Family Responsibilities 

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