UNICEF commends ratification by Viet Nam of the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Child Adoption
2 December 2011, Ha Noi, Viet Nam – UNICEF applauds the recent ratification by Viet Nam of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. Following the signature of the Hague Convention by Viet Nam in December 2010, the President approved its ratification in July 2011. The country is expected to be a full member of the Hague Convention in February 2012.
“UNICEF congratulates the Government of Viet Nam for continuing to make remarkable progress in reforming the child adoption system. The ongoing inter-country adoption reform has recently culminated with the ratification of The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption, which is a significant step to operationalise the principles regarding inter-country adoption that are contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, says Ms. Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Viet Nam Representative. “It is indeed a formidable step forward in ensuring that inter-country adoption is pursued in conformity with the standards and principles of international legislation requiring any placement decisions to be in the best interests of the child”.
There are approximately 1.6 million children living in extremely difficult circumstances in Viet Nam, including 176,000 orphans and abandoned children, according to recent government estimates. The situation shows a need to strengthen child protection systems and provide support to vulnerable families. Inter-country adoption is among the range of permanent care options for children without parental care. For individual children who cannot be cared for in an appropriate setting in their country of origin, inter-country adoption could be the best stable solution once all efforts for suitable domestic care has been exhausted.
Since the late 1990s, Viet Nam has been among the most popular countries of origin for inter-country adoption, with at least 10,000 children being adopted from Viet Nam. Statistics from the Assessment of the Adoption System in Viet Nam by International Social Services, commissioned by UNICEF and the Ministry of Justice in 2009, indicated that adoptions from Viet Nam have been significant and generally on the increase in the past years (from 1,183 cases to 1,658 cases annually between 2002 and 2008 respectively).
Concurrent with this trend in rise of inter-country adoptions, there have been growing international efforts to ensure that adoptions are carried out in a transparent, non-exploitative and legal manner to the benefit of the children and families concerned. In Viet Nam, following serious concerns expressed in the end of the 2000s about the processes for inter-country adoption, which resulted in countries such as Ireland and the United States of America imposing a moratorium on inter-country adoption from Viet Nam, the Government of Viet Nam has engaged in reform to ensure that child adoption is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This reform has been spearheaded by the Ministry of Justice. A new law on Child Adoption was passed by the National Assembly in June 2010, followed by a Decree developed by the Government to operationalize the law in March 2011. The ratification of The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption is indeed another important milestone in strengthening the legal framework regulating child inter-country adoption. UNICEF is immensely proud to be associated with this successful reform.
The Hague Convention is an important legal document for children, birth families and prospective foreign adoptive parents. It sets out obligations for the authorities of countries from which children leave for adoption, and those that are receiving these children. The Convention is designed to ensure ethical and transparent processes. It gives paramount consideration to the best interests of the child, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It includes ensuring that adoptions are authorised only by competent authorities, guided by informed consent of all concerned, that inter-country adoption enjoys the same safeguards and standards which apply in national adoptions, and that inter-country adoption does not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it. These provisions are meant first and foremost to protect children, but also have the positive effect of safeguarding the rights of their birth parents and providing assurance to prospective adoptive parents that their child has not been the subject of illegal practices.
“Due diligence about the implementation of the adoption reform in general and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoptions in particular is required in the coming years in order to ensure that the recently ratified Convention is indeed complied with,” said Ms. Sylwander, UNICEF Representative, Viet Nam, ‘Due diligence includes strengthening monitoring systems for national and inter-country adoption, as well redoubling communication and capacity development activities at all levels of the Government and throughout the country about the ongoing child adoption reform’.
UNICEF is currently supporting the government to conduct a Study on Child Abandonment and Relinquishment to understand the magnitude, trends and root causes of child abandonment in Viet Nam. The study will provide a greater understanding about the causes and patterns of institutionalisation on children, and the impact on inter-country adoption and domestic adoption. It will set the basis for the formation and improvement of preventive child welfare measures as well as child protection systems, especially de-institutionalisation of children and the expansion of alternative care options for vulnerable children. The recognition, particularly in the last two decades, that children’s development can be negatively affected by growing up in large and often impersonal institutions, has led to a shift to reduce the use of such care facilities, and to finding stable and long-term solutions such as family reunification, foster care, small group homes, or other forms of care which are in the best interests of the individual child. In addition children should only be placed in alternative care only if this is necessary, and there is no other way of helping to keep the family together.
UNICEF is currently assisting the Ministry of Justice to develop a National Project to support the implementation of the Hague Convention to ensure compliance. The National Project will be submitted to the Prime Minister for approval in early 2012 for funding by the Government. In addition, UNICEF is supporting the piloting of a programme on inter-country adoption for children with special needs in four provinces with high numbers of children with special needs, including Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau and Da Nang.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF Viet Nam seeks to work more closely with the private sector to achieve best results for children.
For further information, please contact:
• Ms. Le Hong Loan, Chief Child Protection Section; Tel 84 4 39425706 ext 287; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Ms. Sandra Bisin, UNICEF Communications; Tel. 84 4 3942 5706 ext 271; Email: email@example.com
• Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, UNICEF Communications; Tel. 84 4 3942 5706 ext 401; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org