New action against HCCH’s draft convention on parentage


Since 2018, we have been attempting to alert States to the serious consequences of the draft convention initiated by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) on “parentage in the context of surrogate motherhood”. In vain.

The work of the HCCH is set to continue in a direction favourable to the surrogacy market and with total disregard for the rights of women and children. Even worse, we have noticed that despite the complexity of the issue, governments in general get very little involved, with some, such as Sweden and Spain, sending professionals to the working group who express an opinion that is in contrary to those of their own governments. Yet this working group was set up to represent the position of the Member States. 

This inconsistency may be due either to the States indifference to the subject of surrogacy or a lack of awareness of the implications of this working group. It can also be a strategic choice from governments due to the fact that States are reluctant to deal with surrogacy at a domestic level because of the controversies and the difficulties of pleasing everyone. In this sense, the future HCCH convention may serve as an excuse and great alibi for governments to do nothing at national level and take no stand. By doing so they can leave this international organisation to act in their place to open  up to surrogacy. 

In general, we firmly believe that it is necessary to involve the States more. We need to demand clear answers from them about their position as an independent state in the HCCH and on the role they believe that they play in the preparatory work for this Convention on the issue of surrogacy. It is crucial to demand liability on our governments awareness and responsibility on the consequences of the Convention at the national level.

Our action

In order to act in this direction, we have coordinated, among the CIAMS members, a procedure  that is accessible in France and Sweden: to ask the governments to report on the work in The Hague and to express the position it intends to defend in front of parliament. This can usually be done by sending a request for a hearing through a member of the parliament. In accordance with the procedure available in France, we have drawn up a model question, which can be used as a basis to question the states about their responsibility on surrogacy, their position, and activities on the HCCH.

We also sent another letter directly to each HCCH member state, asking the same questions.


For the benefit of a larger number of civil society organizations and individuals, we are sharing what has been sent to each member state:

Respected representative of the government of [country name],

We [Name of the organisation] are an organisation that works to defend the rights and protection of women [the organisation’s main field of action]. In line with our values, we have been fighting against the advancement of surrogate motherhood for five years as a member of CIAMS (International Coalition for the abolition of surrogate motherhood). 

Together with other 60 feminist human rights organisations, we are highly critical of The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) work to draft an international convention on surrogacy. This convention, which is already at an advanced stage, aims to deliver to its member states the harmonisation of their conflicting laws and guarantee the elimination of legal effects from cross-border surrogate parenthood for those who resort to this practice. 

Once enacted, the Convention’s first consequence will be to facilitate access to surrogacy worldwide. A regulation on this scale will also mean the legal and social legitimization of the practice, and thus the normalisation of the exploitation of women for their reproductive capacities and the sale of children.

Inside the HCCH a working group was set up last November. Its members, appointed by the member states to represent the positions of their governments, must continue their work by persisting in drafting  the convention which will be presented to the member states in 2024. Their last meeting is scheduled on 8-12 April 2024. Even though we warned the Hague Conference about the harmful consequences of its work, the voice of dozens of organisations and thousands of supporters has not been heard and they continue to advance the convention to satisfy the interests of a surrogacy market (whose existence is recognized by the HCCH itself) that exploits women for their reproductive capacities and commodify children by making them objects to order, manufacture, buy and sell. At this point, only a strong political will, expressed by the Member States, can stop this project, which up to now has developed with apparent indifference on the part of governments to the effects of the convention, as long as it is implemented as a common international solution.

[country name] is represented in this work by [name of representatives / from which ministry or institution]. Therefore, we have come in the duty to ask you exactly how you intend to proceed with this issue and specifically what position will be expressed through the government representatives within the HCCH?  Nevertheless, what role does  [country name] recognize itself to play in this complex issue and responsibility do [country name] take for the consequences of the work of the HCCH?


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