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Stop child trafficking. Petition to the UN on surrogacy

Published: 07.09.2021

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• An international coalition of NGOs has prepared a petition to the United Nations calling for action to combat surrogacy.

• The organisations demand that the Convention on the Rights of the Child be extended to include an Optional Protocol that explicitly bans surrogacy organisations, as well as advertising and intermediation in surrogacy.

• Article 8 of the Convention states that the child has the right “to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, surname, family relations”.

• Surrogacy has already been opposed by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

• The surrogacy market is expected to be worth $33.5 billion in 2027.


Surrogacy involves fertilising a woman’s egg in vitro and implanting it into another woman’s uterus. The mother, after the birth of the child, resells it to third parties (married couples, couples (including same-sex couples), single people). Most often, the mothers are women from poor regions – Eastern Europe and South Asia. The children are usually acquired by residents of Western Europe and North America.

Agencies mediating in surrogacy offer the buyers the right to choose the sex, race and hair colour of the child. This phenomenon is therefore discriminatory and undermines fundamental human rights. It sometimes happens that purchasers change their minds after the birth of the child. The most common cause is the child’s illness. In such cases, the newborns end up in orphanages. It also happens that mothers do not want to give up their child because they form a strong bond with the baby. The purchasers often seek to take the minor away by force, against the will of the mother.

In 2020, the surrogacy market was worth $4 billion. Its value in 2027 is expected to be $33.5 billion. In various places around the world, the organisation Men Having Babies organises children’s fairs for same-sex couples. In 2020, these events took place, for example, in Brussels, Paris, Taipei and Tel-Aviv.

Ukraine is the European centre of surrogacy. In July this year, the local Security Service broke up an organised criminal group that was involved in the sale of infants to other countries and the issuance of false documents. A clinic where children died was also closed down. Several months earlier, the closure of borders due to the pandemic had left thousands of children in those countries, as they were unable to be transported to their purchasers.

A coalition of social organisations from over a dozen countries (e.g. Poland, the USA, Great Britain, Italy, Slovakia) has asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to present a draft Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child at the next meeting of the General Assembly. The protocol provides for the introduction of a ban on commercial surrogacy and advertising of surrogacy and intermediation in this procedure.

Commercial surrogacy has already been condemned by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. In October 2016, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE rejected a draft recommendation allowing surrogacy on the condition that “the rights of children are safeguarded”. The draft failed to mention the issue of the permissibility of surrogacy contracts, meaning that the issue would be left to the free interpretation of member states. The project states that surrogacy would be “the last resort for infertile couples (...) including homosexual couples”.

In December 2015, the European Parliament condemned the practice of surrogacy “which undermines the human dignity of women because their body and reproductive functions are used as a commodity”. Parliament stated that “this practice should be banned and treated as an urgent issue within the framework of human rights instruments”. MEPs asked the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development to “do everything in their power to bring about a strong and clear condemnation of all forms of surrogacy”.

“Surrogacy violates not only the dignity and rights of the child, whose position is reduced to that of an object in a commercial transaction, but also of the woman who agrees to give birth to the child, often because of her difficult life situation. This phenomenon is highly discriminatory and undermines human rights”, emphasised Weronika Przebierała from the Ordo Iuris Centre for Legislative Analysis during the conference inaugurating the petition.


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