March 3, 2023 is a historic day for the promotion of the dignity of women and children. children. On that day, the signing in Casablanca (Morocco) of the Casablanca Declaration for the universal abolition of surrogacy.
The Declaration, signed by 100 jurists, physicians, psychologists and other experts from 75 countries around the world, is a first step towards the conclusion of an international treaty to abolish the practice. The members of the Casablanca Group of Experts come from very diverse backgrounds and cultures, and the only thing that unites them is the desire to abolish the practice worldwide, whatever form it takes. They intend to work together in this direction to raise public and government awareness of the reality of this globalized market. They note that, although few countries have legalized surrogacy, its promoters take advantage of globalization to offer their business to rich people who will be able to rent the wombs of poor women who have no other means of subsistence.
As a first step in this effort to inform the authorities, two members of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the body that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, were invited as independent observers. Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna of Uruguay, former Chair of the CRC and current member, welcomed and thanked the participants.
Suzanne Aho, former Togolese Minister of Health (2003-2006) and mayor of Lomé for 10 years, who is beginning her third term as a member of the CRC (2023-2027), also gave a welcome address and attended the seminar in Casablanca. She tells us about it in this interview with Omnes.
What is your opinion of the Casablanca group's work and seminar on March 3, 2023?
-First of all, I would like to thank all those who, from near and far, have contributed to and supported the success of the Casablanca Group's March 3, 2023 seminar on such a delicate subject as surrogacy. I welcome this initiative, which gives rise to contradictory debates and appeals to the medical, ethical and legal fields. One of the legal problems arises when it comes to transcribing birth certificates issued abroad. Some jurisdictions do not recognize surrogacy as a legal mode of procreation in the name of the principle of commodification. This seminar is timely. The various topics covered aptly demonstrate all aspects of surrogacy.
To what extent is surrogacy (surrogate motherhood) controlled under the UNCRC?
-For the committee, it is as relevant and worrisome as any other issue. The CRC talks about surrogacy, including international surrogacy. The issue is on our list of issues to be addressed.
What are the risks of this practice?
-The consequences for the mother and the child are quite serious, depending on the case: dignity, violence, etc. These are the key words of this practice.
The French National Consultative Committee on Ethics has issued an opinion (Opinion no. 126 of June 15, 2017) in which it declares itself "favorable to the elaboration of an international convention banning surrogacy and is particularly attached to the diplomatic effort". This is the same position adopted by the Casablanca group of experts. Do you see an international treaty to abolish surrogacy as possible?
-Yes, it would be possible to conclude an international convention, but several questions need to be answered first: has the French advisory committee been well prepared for it? What is the state of the art? What are the statistics of the surrogacy market in the world? Are the states that practice and authorize surrogacy prepared for it?
In my humble opinion, it is still too early to conclude such an agreement. We should start this process by publicizing the Casablanca Declaration.
Does this practice not represent a regression of the rights of children and women, who are reduced to "objects of transaction"?
-Certainly, it is an attack on human dignity and, therefore, a violation of the rights of children and women.
We must fight against the trafficking of children born from surrogacy.