Inter-Country Adoption and the Special Rights Fallacy

80 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013 Last revised: 3 Sep 2015

Date Written: December 3, 2013


Debate over restrictions on international adoption have focused myopically on the U.N. Children's Rights Convention and the Hague Convention, even though there are human rights conventions applicable to all persons, including children, that trump those child-specific conventions and that set forth rights pertinent to international adoption. This article explains why it is a mistake to assume that a special convention for children like the CRC makes them better off than they would be in its absence. It further explains why proponents of freer inter-country adoption should distance themselves from the CRC and Hague Convention and instead build a political and legal strategy founded on the universal right to leave one's country and to change one's nationality. Based on various sources for interpreting that right in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Article critiques the justifications that UNICEF, sending countries, and others have offered for restricting inter-country adoption.

Keywords: international adoption, subsidiarity principle, children's rights, right to emigrate, Hague Convention

Suggested Citation

Dwyer, James Gerard, Inter-Country Adoption and the Special Rights Fallacy (December 3, 2013). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2013, William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-254, Available at SSRN:

James Gerard Dwyer (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States


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