The Sale of Children and Illegal Adoption


Date of publication:  01 Jul 2017 Author:  Nigel Cantwell Publisher:  TDH Defence for Children - ECPAT the Netherlands Publication type:  Report / Study / Data

This study is based on a research paper developed to inform the thematic report on this subject of the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, Maud de Boer Buquicchio. She provided much appreciated guidance and feedback throughout the preparation and finalisation of the research paper.

The study responds to the broad interpretation of “sale of children” established in the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, as noted in section I above, which includes but also goes beyond acts explicitly covered in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC) (see 1.C.ii).

The key elements of that mandate in this regard involve the analysis of the root causes of the sale of children for adoption and the factors that enable the phenomenon to persist. The explicit mention in the mandate of the need to address “demand factors” is significant. It demonstrates the importance to be attached to approaching the question of “sale” more especially from the standpoint of “purchase” - or procurement – and the profiteering that this implies. The scope and focus of this study fully reflects that perspective.

The study concentrates more especially on illegal intercountry adoptions. While illegal domestic (national) and intercountry adoptions share some characteristics, most differ as a direct or indirect consequence of the cross-border factor and are consequently subject to distinct international law provisions. Illicit practices would also appear to be far less common – though by no means absent – in domestic adoptions than at the intercountry level.

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