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High Commissioner for Human Rights presents Annual Report to the Human Rights Council

Human Rights Council
MORNING

8 March 2017

  Council Concludes Interactive Dialogue on the Rights to Privacy and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

The Human Rights Council this morning heard Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, present his annual report.  The Council also concluded its interactive dialogue on the rights to privacy and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

High Commissioner Zeid briefed the Council on more than 30 country and regional situations.  An interactive dialogue will be held with the High Commissioner on Thursday, 9 March.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli, President of the Human Rights Council, encouraged all delegates, regardless of their gender, to commit themselves to supporting and protecting the rights of women everywhere.

Mexico, speaking on behalf of Finland and 50 countries, said that the 2030 Agenda offered a great opportunity for the promotion and protection of women’s rights.  The Council had to contribute to it in a way that was consistent with the full and equal participation of women.  Multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against women were still deeply rooted.  The tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was an opportunity to highlight the work needed to ensure a better present and future for indigenous women and girls, while the ambitious Global Compact on Migration should recognize leadership of women and ensure protection from discrimination.

The Council then continued its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Joseph Cannataci, and the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Maud de Boer-Buiquicchio.  They presented their reports yesterday and a summary of their statements can be found here.

Georgia spoke as a concerned country.  The Office of the Public Defender of Georgia also took the floor.

In the ensuing discussion on the right to privacy, speakers called for multilateral cooperation to ensure that the right to privacy was effectively protected in the digital era. 

Some condemned the unlawful monitoring of social networks by Western powers which undermined the right of persons to privacy.  There was a lack of transparency in the monitoring of online communication, which led to a huge invasion of privacy.  States must establish or maintain effective and adequately resourced oversight mechanisms capable of ensuring accountability for State surveillance of communications. 

On the illegal adoption of children, speakers shared the view that there was a global need for States to adopt comprehensive legislation that prohibited and criminalized illegal adoption, and the sale of and trafficking in children that resulted in illegal adoptions.  It was critical that countries of origin and receiving countries worked closely together to safeguard children’s rights in the adoption process.  Technical assistance was needed to help States address issues arising from intercountry adoptions. 

Speaking were the European Union, El Salvador on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Brazil on behalf of a group of countries, Slovenia, United Nations Children’s Fund, Israel, Russian Federation, Council of Europe, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Spain, El Salvador, China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, South Africa, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Tunisia, Nepal, Paraguay, Cuba, Latvia, Indonesia and Portugal.

Also taking the floor were the following non-governmental organizations: Human Rights Advocates Inc., Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, Privacy International, Association for Progressive Communications, European Union of Public Relations, Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, American Civil Liberties Union, CIVICUS -  World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Article 19, Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik, Human Rights Watch, Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, and Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiatives pour le Dialogue.     

The Council is holding a full day of meetings today.  At noon, it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment and the Special Rapporteur on the right to food. 

Documentation

The Council has before itthe Annual Report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/34/3).

Presentation by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of his Annual Report

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, applauded the principled actions of members of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) in The Gambia in supporting a peaceful conclusion to the presidential election in December 2016.   In Uzbekistan, after years of pervasive human rights violations, a series of laws had been drafted and approved in line with United Nations recommendations.  Tunisia was commended for its continued efforts to place human rights at the centre of its transition and its exemplary cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  In Greece, President Pavlopoulos had visited a refugee centre and told children from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan that they were welcome.  The High Commissioner noted that 2016 had witnessed considerable bloodshed at the hand of extremist and terrorist groups and he strongly condemned all such violence.  His statement would not detail the human rights situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Cyprus, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Libya, Sri Lanka, Syria, Ukraine or Yemen, since the Council would receive specific briefings from my Office during this session and in the High-Level Panel on Syria next week. 

High Commissioner Zeid said that in February 2017, his Office had issued a disturbing report on the alarming scale and severity of operations by the Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya in Rakhine state.  It appeared that what had been termed by the security forces as a “counter-insurgency operation” in reality had been aimed at expelling the Rohingya population from Myanmar altogether.  The High Commissioner urged the Council, at minimum, to establish a commission of inquiry into the violence against the Rohingya, particularly during security operations since 9 October 2016, and reiterated his standing request to open an OHCHR office in the country.  In the Philippines more than 7,000 had reportedly been killed since the anti-drug campaign had been launched in July 2016.  Statements by the President had appeared to encourage the extrajudicial killings of people suspected of involvement in drug trade.  Plans to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine years old also demonstrated stark disregard for the State’s obligations under international law.  In Cambodia the pre-electoral period had featured a host of charges and threats against members of opposition parties and people exercising their freedom of expression.  The Government of China had stated its intention to play a leadership role in the Human Rights Council, and so far it had performed remarkably in lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty.  However, it should respect the rights of human rights defenders, and cease to restrict cultural and religious rights, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet.  The High Commissioner expressed profound alarm by the incoming reports of extremely severe violations of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and he deplored the Government’s restrictions on freedom of religion and belief in Iran, as well as the harmful practice of child marriage. 

Currently, more than 80 per cent of Member States had ceased putting people to death either formally or with informal moratoria.  Iran was among the four countries responsible for almost 90 per cent of the executions around the world.  The others were China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.  The High Commissioner deeply regretted the stated intention of Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Turkey and the Philippines to reinstate capital punishment.  He expressed concern over the measures taken under the state of emergency in Turkey which appeared to target criticism rather than terrorism.  He was very concerned about increasing calls within the European Union to establish extraterritorial processing centres or camps in North Africa and elsewhere, and to engage external actors in migration issues with little regard for human rights.  Hungary’s Prime Minister had recently reportedly declared that “ethnic homogeneity” was key for economic success.  No society was homogeneous and such toxic notions of ethnic purity harked back to an era in which people suffered atrociously, Hungarians included.  As was also the case in Poland, the Hungarian Government had continued to undermine civil society and judges and increased government influence over the media.  

Turning to the Russian Federation, the High Commissioner was concerned about the federal law on combatting extremist activity, which might have been arbitrarily used to curb freedom of expression, including political dissent, and freedom of religion.  He deplored the violence and destruction in South Sudan, and he urged the Council to establish a commission of inquiry to look into allegations of grave human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He expressed concern over the virtually extinguished democratic space in Burundi, and the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in Mali.  He called attention to the pervasive discrimination against Palestinians, Israel’s confiscation of private property to build new settlements, and the increased use of administrative and arbitrary detention.  In the State of Palestine, The High Commissioner said his Office was also concerned that both the Palestinian Authority and the authorities in Gaza had increased use of administrative and arbitrary detention, with increasing allegations of torture and ill-treatment in both the West Bank and Gaza against political opponents, journalists and activists.

The conflict in Iraq continued to cause a large number of civilian casualties and death, with daily reports of ISIL atrocities against civilians.  The High Commissioner urged that all evidence of potential violations be collected and documented.  He urged the Government of Iraq to monitor the conduct of Iraqi security forces, and to amend the Criminal Code to ensure that domestic courts had jurisdiction over international crimes.  In Egypt, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists and media professionals were being methodically silenced by arrests, prosecutions and severely punitive financial measures.  The High Commissioner urged the Government of Egypt to recognize that as in all countries facing security challenges and violent extremism, depriving people of their rights would not make the State safer but more unstable.  In Bahrain the Government had imposed increasing restrictions on civil society and politics since June 2016.  The extreme polarization in Venezuela was deeply concerning, with continued restrictions on the freedom of movement, association, expression and peaceful protest. 

In the United States the High Commissioner was concerned by the new administration’s handling of a number of human rights issues, namely the recent surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism and violence against ethnic and religious minorities.  He was worried about new immigration policies that banned the admission of people from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, as well as policies which greatly expanded the number of immigrants at immediate risk of deportation.  Across many parts of Central and Latin America, people who had engaged in defending land rights and the environment from extractive industries and development projects faced acute danger, including murder and violent attacks.  Among them were numerous leaders of indigenous communities whose civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights continued to be widely abused throughout the region.  Widespread criminal violence in the region, namely in Brazil, had a severe and deadly impact in prison administration.  In Haiti, more than 40 detainees died in the past two months as a result of poor health-care and nutrition. Combatting severe overcrowding and parallel systems of governance within the prisons were among key human rights recommendations that needed to be urgently addressed.  The work of the Council could only be meaningful if it reflected accurately the space beyond it and if it changed conditions for the better, the High Commissioner concluded.

Statements on the Occasion of International Women’s Day

JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, encouraged all delegates, regardless of their gender, to commit themselves to supporting and protecting the rights of women everywhere.

Mexico, speaking on behalf of Finland and 50 countries, said that the 2030 Agenda offered a great opportunity for the promotion and protection of women’s rights and said that the Council must contribute to it in a way that was consistent with the full and equal participation of women.  Multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination against women were still deeply rooted: the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People was an opportunity to highlight the work needed to ensure a better present and future for indigenous women and girls, while the ambitious Global Compact on Migration should recognize the leadership of women and ensure protection from discrimination.

The countries noted that every year, 300,000 women and girls died during pregnancy and childbirth, mainly due to preventable causes, lack of contraception, or lack of access to health services and information.  Violence against women and girls including intimate partner violence and marital rape was still not prohibited in a number of countries.  Gender-based discrimination must be denounced with the same urgency accorded to slavery or racial discrimination, said the countries, stressing that opposing recognition of equal rights of women was simply unacceptable.

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Privacy and the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
 
Statement by the Concerned Country

Georgia, speaking as a concerned country, reassured the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography that due attention would be given to her valuable recommendations and said that an all-inclusive national process to facilitate reporting to the United Nations treaty and charter-based bodies had been put in place.  The Human Rights Action Plan 2016-17 included a special chapter devoted to the protection of the rights of the child, and in September the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure had been ratified.  Following the Special Rapporteur’s visit, Georgia had revised its child protection referral mechanism to expand the list of government entities and local self-government bodies involved in the referral process of child violence cases.  Enactment of the Juvenile Justice Code in 2016 was another significant development, while the ratification of the Istanbul Convention was expected in the nearest future.  The situation of children’s rights in the occupied regions remained a challenge, particularly given the absence of international monitoring mechanisms.

Interactive Discussion

European Union said the right to privacy was important for the realisation of the rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association, and for the work of non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders and journalists.  The European Union asked how to promote a common understanding of the international human rights framework protecting rights, including the right to privacy?   El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, highlighted the importance of information and communication technology and the Internet as tools for peace but underscored the need for the right to privacy and the potentially negative effects when data was intercepted.  The Community raised the issue of unlawful adoptions and urged States to adopt measures through robust childhood protection systems.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the protection of children was of the utmost importance to Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  The international community needed to remove factors that led to the sale of children.  Promoting access to justice and inclusive institutions would help address this problem.  The Special Rapporteur was asked to share concrete measures that Governments could take to address the abuse of children.  Brazil, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said that the same rights that people had offline needed to be protected online.  Building upon the current international frameworks was crucial and States must establish or maintain effective and adequately resourced oversight mechanisms capable of ensuring accountability of State surveillance of communications.  Slovenia asked the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, in reference to a study on illegal adoptions included in her report, how could other relevant Special Procedure mandate holders address this issue?  United Children’s Children Fund said that the adoption and enforcement of legal frameworks in accordance with international standards was critical to effectively protect children from illegal adoption.  It was critical that countries of origin and receiving countries worked closely together to safeguard children’s rights in the adoption process.

Israel shared the conclusion that there was a global need for States to adopt comprehensive legislation that prohibited and criminalized illegal adoption, and the sale of and trafficking in children that resulted in illegal adoptions.   Russian Federation drew attention to the risk of illegal adoptions in States that had not ratified the Hague Convention on the protection of children in inter-country adoptions.  The issue of monitoring of cyberbullying was extremely topical given the current counter-terrorism context.  Council of Europe stated that it continued to implement globally its treaties on data protection and cyber-crime.  The Council of Europe called for multilateral cooperation to ensure that the right to privacy was effectively protected in the digital era.  Mexico regretted unlawful acts in international adoption processes and reiterated its commitment to work with the Special Rapporteur.  What were the main obstacles to greater ratification of the Hague convention on the protection of children in inter-country adoptions?  Venezuela condemned the unlawful monitoring of social networks by Western powers which undermined the right of persons to privacy.  As for illegal adoption of children, Venezuela was determined to eradicate this unlawful phenomenon.  Ecuador underscored a lack of transparency in the monitoring of online communication, which led to a huge invasion of privacy.  As for illegal adoption of children, Ecuador had in place legal instruments to combat that practice. 

Spain reiterated the commitment to address the complicated and sensitive issue of unlawful national adoption and informed of measures taken to date, including the creation of an Information and Documentation Centre in 2012 which to date had assisted 449 persons affected by the abduction of infants.  The penal law of El Salvador established that illegal adoptions violated children’s rights; every national and international adoption process must meet local, regional and national laws; and efforts to prevent illegal adoption had been scaled up.  China said that the increase in the violation of the right to privacy worldwide made the protection of this right urgent, and that was why the criminal law in China contained clear provisions protecting the privacy of citizens.  China had a refined system of laws, including on adoption, and the two-child policy was in place, while the efforts to curb illegal adoption had been successful, as evidenced by the reunification of more than 450,000 children with their families.

Egypt stressed the importance of respecting the right of privacy in the context of terrorist activities and stressed the need to protect confidentiality and privacy while protecting people from the threat of terrorism.  Measures were being taken to prohibit illegal adoption and trafficking of children, including the prosecution of perpetrators and combatting impunity.  The extraterritorial surveillance and data collection by multinational companies represented a violation of the right to privacy and a violation of States’ sovereignty, said Iran, calling upon the international community to adopt legal measures to put an end to such violations.  Pakistan said it had adopted the Electronic Crime Bill which criminalized sexual exploitation of children, and it had in place a national monitoring system, the child protection management information system, which collected district-level data in five thematic areas, including child trafficking and the sale of children.

South Africa said that technical assistance was needed to help States address issues arising from intercountry adoption.  In that regard, she asked the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography about practical steps that could be taken to support countries of origin to improve child protection services.  Belarus said it had the necessary legislation and institutions in place to combat crimes related to child prostitution and pornography.   It paid great attention to the prevention and suppression of such crimes over the Internet and had established a special unit to deal with such problems. 

Remarks by the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

MAUD DE BOER-BUQUICCHIO, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, reminded that the best interest of the child should be at the heart of every adoption.  Illegal adoptions violated multiple child-based norms and principles.  It was thus important to criminalize illegal adoption as a separate offence in national law.  International cooperation was extremely important not only in the context of international adoption, but also in the context of national adoption because illegal adoptions could be the result of sale of and trafficking in children.  International cooperation could be in the form of technical support and assistance.  Adoption should be considered as a child protection measure.  There was a duty incumbent on States to ensure that children could remain with their families before resorting to alternative solutions.  There was a need for all States to ratify the 1993 Hague convention, with emphasis on identifying central State authorities in adoption procedures.  The Hague Conference was expected to identify good practices and common approaches to adoption procedures.  Transitional justice in the context of illegal adoption was extremely important and victims were entitled to redress, truth and reparation.  There were not many good practices, but some examples did exist.  A child-based perspective should be the basis of all work on child rights.  Illegal adoptions appeared when parents were in a vulnerable situation and susceptible to adoption suggestions.  They were fuelled by demand pressure, such as for example, artificial populating of orphanages in order to obtain donations. 

Interactive Dialogue

Kyrgyzstan said it had done its best to thwart possible corruption risks in international adoptions, and had introduced quotas for foreign adoption organizations while decisions concerning adoptions were made by the courts only.  National adoption remained a priority in Kyrgyzstan.  Iraq asked how the right to privacy could be protected while fighting the scourge of terrorism and addressing the sleeping terrorist cells operating under the guise of the right to privacy.  Tunisia said it had protected in law the privacy and confidentiality of exchanges and data and had established a National Committee for the Protection of Data.  In 2016, Tunisia had adopted the law on all forms of trafficking in persons which established the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. 

Nepal said it had reformed the inter-country adoption process to make it more systematic, ethical and transparent and had signed the Hague Convention on inter-country adoption in 2009.  Poverty alone was not taken as the ground for adoption and orphaned or abandoned children who had spent more than 90 days in a child home could be adopted by a foreign citizen.  Paraguay said that data gathering must respect the laws and 2030 Agenda.  Paraguay was doing its utmost to prevent illegal adoptions and asked about good replicable practices for the prevention of the use of children in pornography.  Cuba was concerned about the violation of sovereignty and human rights violations triggered by large-scale monitoring and data gathering, in particular by the “global espionage”, and rejected the militarization of cyber-space and the use of cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism.  Adoption processes were carefully followed by the authorities and that was why there were no cases involving illegal adoption before the courts.

Latvia said it shared the Special Rapporteur’s concerns about worrying practices in some States to use privacy laws to muzzle investigative journalism.  On the sale of children, Latvia asked the Special Rapporteur to provide examples of measures that could be implemented by States to ensure greater transparency with regard to adoption-related procedures.  Indonesia said it had revised its Electronic Information Technology Law, which contained a clause that ensured that authorized officials would respect principles of privacy.  On illegal adoption and the sale of children, she commended the work of the Special Rapporteur and took note of her request for a country visit to Indonesia.  Portugal expressed concern about the increased number of intercountry adoptions brought about by the growing demand of prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt children in lower-income countries.  On issues of privacy and government surveillance, Portugal asked the Special Rapporteur what regulating role could the drafting of an international legal instrument on surveillance play in that regard.

Public Defender of Georgia, speaking on the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Georgia, emphasized the improvements and steps taken by the Georgian Government to protect children from neglect and violence.  Significant legislative changes were positive, however, there were still a number of challenges that needed to be addressed.  In that regard, special attention should be paid to the issues of the most vulnerable children.  It was also important to address the capacity of enforcement agencies.  In many cases, adequate actions and preventive measures were not implemented by the authorities.  With regards to the issue of early marriages, prevention and case management still remained a problem.  The main challenges were the low level of public awareness, gaps in service delivery and ineffective response mechanisms.

Human Rights Advocates Inc. drew attention to children sold as domestic workers or into servile marriages who were often not perceived as being in forced labour.  As for the right to privacy, it noted that the retention of metadata interfered with privacy because it had the potential to reveal personal information.  Centre for Environmental and Management Studies noted that Pakistan was both a transit and destination of forced labour and sex trafficking.  Poverty stricken people in Pakistan took desperate measures to alleviate their situation.  The absence of adequate laws worsened the situation of trafficked children.  Privacy International said that effective oversight of surveillance was among the fundamental guarantees against unlawful interference with the right to privacy.  An area of particular inadequacy was in monitoring bilateral and multilateral intelligence sharing arrangements.  Association for Progressive Communications raised concern that the United States Government was asking arriving visitors to provide access to their electronic devices and passwords to those devices and online accounts at points of entry, which infringed on their right to privacy and freedom of opinion, expression, religion, belief, movement and association.  European Union of Public Relations underlined the principle that one’s personal information was protected from public scrutiny.  All States had the obligation to uphold that principle.  However, many Middle Eastern countries and Pakistan violated that principle. Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, on behalf of severals NGOs1, stated that maternal surrogacy was a growing phenomenon posing complex challenges for the human rights of the women and children involved.  The Council should urgently address the issue of international commercial surrogacy. 

American Civil Liberties Union said that the report “Surveillance and Democracy: Chilling Tales from Around the World” brought abusive governments surveillance to light and said that surveillance, in its many forms, was a cornerstone of oppressive States, had always posed a particular test for open and democratic societies, but in the digital age, the challenges were its constantly expanding scope and its intrusiveness.  CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation expressed alarm over continued practice by several States to use privacy laws to supress the work and activities of journalists and civil society groups.  Communication technologies remained critical for human rights defenders to augment their voices and share information on pressing human rights issues.  In the context of severe and increasing violations of the rights to privacy and freedom of expression in countries, including Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, Inc. asked how cybercrime and anti-terror legislation could be amended to ensure that privacy and other basic human rights were protected.

Article 19 – The International Centre against Censorship said that its Global Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy aimed to guide stakeholders on how to ensure that the rights of freedom of expression and privacy were protected, online and offline.  Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik reminded all States of their obligations to preserve the rights of their citizens and that constant surveillance would lead to a police state instead of a free, democratic, dynamic and creative society as was being witnessed in many countries.  Human Rights Watch was concerned that a number of States had expanded large scale and extremely intrusive surveillance through new laws, such as the Investigatory Powers Act in the United Kingdom which authorised mass surveillance and hacking, several laws in France which enabled sweeping surveillance with insufficient safeguards, while the United States continued indiscriminate scanning of nearly all communications that flowed over the Internet infrastructure, notwithstanding moderate reforms in 2015.

Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy said children in India were sold for bonded labour, and some were forced to join armed units where they were used in front-line operations against indigenous people; the Council was called on to ensure the safety of both indigenous people and children.  Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association thanked the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children and drew the attention of the Council to the matter of girl children who were trafficked in areas of India, and the fact that mitigating measures that had been set up were not operational.  Centre Independent de Recherches et d’Initiative pour le Dialogue commended the report on the sale of children, noting that many children were still subjected to sexual harassment in schools and religious circles, and asked for more information about the role of law enforcement agencies to end such crimes against children, also noting that children in Yemen were suffering.
 
Concluding Remarks

MAUD DE BOER-BUIQUICCHIO, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, spoke about adoptions, noting that subsidiarity could only work if there was a child protection mechanism, with alternative childcare options, otherwise it could easily be circumvented in international adoptions.  States must address push and pull factors, and one of the important factors enabling illegal adoption was the financial advantage of procuring children for international adoption.  It was important to ensure transparency to the issue of costs.  Other adoption-related payments created a dependency that could fuel illegal adoptions.  Poverty alone was not a reason for adoption.  The myth that a child was better off in an industrialized, more developed country should be broken down.  There was an obvious need for countries to work together.  She reiterated that the assistance which could be provided by international experts could ensure a common approach in that respect.  In the absence of availability of children for adoption, the international commercial surrogacy issue was becoming more urgent, and next year, she would report on that issue.  If the international community managed to focus just on the child’s best interests, it might be able to eradicate that crime against children which was still widely spread and fuelled by the fact that criminals exploited the failure of States to provide adequate protection and redress.

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1Joint statement: Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII; International Catholic Child Bureau; World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations; Association Points-Coeur; Confederation Internationale de la Societe de Saint Vincent de Paul; Alliance Defending Freedom; Marist International Solidarity Foundation; Company of the Daughters of Charity of Vincent de Paul; and European Centre for Law and Justice.

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For use of the information media; not an official record

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