On 8th of July, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities and the Special Rapporteur on older people published a statement on the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults. This statement came with the publication of a study on ‘Interpreting the 2000 Hague Convention on the International Protection of Adults Consistently with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)’, which was commissioned by the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The 2000 Convention entered into forced in 2009 and is now ratified by 13 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).
The Convention aims to facilitate decisions in cross-border situations in relation to persons who “by reason of an impairment or insufficiency of their personal faculties, are not in a position to protect their interests”. In particular, the convention:
- determines which courts have jurisdiction to take protection measures
- determines which law is to be applied; and who may be a “vulnerable person”
- establishes a system of central authorities which should cooperate, locate “vulnerable adults” and give information on the status of vulnerable persons to other authorities.
In their statement, Special Rapporteurs highlights the “critical importance that the Hague Convention is interpreted and applied so as to positively accommodate the revolution of ideas in the CRPD and also to allow for maximum flexibility for a similar revolution in ideas (autonomy, legal capacity and supported decision-making) if and when a new treaty on the rights of older persons is adopted.”
The statement and the study also include recommendations on ensuring compliance of the 2000 Convention with the CRPD, in particular, directed to the Hague Conference on Private International Law – the intergovernmental organisation that adopted the Convention:
- It should make express reference to the CRPD in its Practical Handbook currently under preparation.
- A specific session of the Special Commission in 2022 should be held on the complementarity between the CRPD and the rights of older persons and the Hague Convention.
- States should be requested in any questionnaires directed to them to identify the place of the CRPD within their domestic legal frameworks.
- It should consider mechanisms (including a possible Additional Protocol) to enable individuals to state their “will and preferences which should be followed at a time when they may not be in position to communicate their wishes to others” (see General Comment No. 1 of the CRPD Committee).
The statement and study are also important in the context of policies developed by the European Union. The EU Disability Rights Strategy 2021-2030 includes a concrete reference to the 2000 Convention. It indicates that the European Commission “will work with Member States to implement the 2000 Hague Convention on the international protection of vulnerable adults in line with the UNCRPD, including by way of a study on the protection of vulnerable adults in cross-border situations, notably those with intellectual disabilities, to pave the way for its ratification by all Member States.”
EDF expressed grave concerns about the lack of consultation with representative organisations of persons with disabilities on this matter and potential violations of the CRPD that could arise in European States that ratified the 2000 Convention.
Marine Uldry, EDF Human Rights Officer