Adopted at Mexico, D.F., Mexico, on March 18, 1994, at the
Fifth Inter-American Specialized Conference on Private
International Law (CIDIP-V)
The States Parties to this Convention,
CONSIDERING the importance of ensuring comprehensive and
effective protection for minors, through appropriate
mechanisms to guarantee respect for their rights;
AWARE that the international traffic in minors is a
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION conventions on international
protection of minors, particularly the provisions of
Articles 11 and 35 of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on
November 20, 1989; CONVINCED of the need to regulate civil
and penal aspects of the international traffic in minors;
REAFFIRMING the importance of international cooperation to
achieve effective protection of the best interests of
Have agreed upon the following:
Article 1- The purpose of the present Convention, with a
view to protection of the fundamental rights of minors and
their best interests, is the prevention and punishment of
the international traffic in minors as well as the
regulation of its civil and penal aspects.
Accordingly, the States Parties to this Convention undertake
a) ensure the protection of minors in consideration of their
b) institute a system of mutual legal assistance among the
States Parties, dedicated to the prevention and punishment
of the international traffic in minors, as well as adopt
related administrative and legal provisions to that effect;
c) ensure the prompt return of minors who are victims of
international traffic to the State of their habitual
residence, bearing in mind the best interests of the
Article 2- This Convention shall apply to any minor who is
habitually resident in a State Party or is located in a
State Party at the time when an act of international traffic
occurs in respect of him or her.
For the purpose of the present Convention:
a) "Minor" means any human being below the age of eighteen.
b) "International traffic in minors" means the abduction,
removal or retention, or attempted abduction, removal or
retention, of a minor for unlawful purposes or by unlawful
c) "Unlawful purpose" includes, among others, prostitution,
sexual exploitation, servitude or any other purpose unlawful
in either the State of the minor's habitual residence or the
State Party where the minor is located.
d) "Unlawful means" includes, among others, kidnaping,
fraudulent or coerced consent, the giving or receipt of
unlawful payments or benefits to achieve the consent of the
parents, persons or institution having care of the child, or
any other means unlawful in either the State of the minor's
habitual residence or the State Party where the minor is
Article 3- This Convention shall also cover the civil
aspects of the wrongful removal, transfer, or retention of
minors internationally, not dealt with by other
international conventions on this subject.
Article 4- To the extent possible, States Parties shall
cooperate with States that are not Parties in preventing and
punishing international traffic in minors, and in protecting
and caring for minors who are victims of that wrongful act.
The competent authorities of a State Party are to notify the
competent authorities of a State that is not a Party
whenever a minor is within its territory who has been a
victim of international traffic in minors in a State Party.
Article 5- For the purposes of the present Convention, each
State Party shall designate a Central Authority and shall
inform the General Secretariat of the Organization of
American States of that designation.
federal State, or a State in which several legal systems
apply, or a State with autonomous territorial units may
designate more than one Central Authority, specifying the
legal or territorial area covered by each of them. The State
making use of this possibility shall designate the Central
Authority to which all communications should be addressed.
Should a State Party designate more than one Central
Authority, it shall so inform the General Secretariat of the
Organization of American States.
Article 6- States Parties shall protect the minor's
interests with a view to ensuring that all procedures
applied pursuant to the present Convention shall remain
Article 7- The States Parties undertake to adopt effective
measures, under their domestic law, to prevent and severely
punish the international traffic in minors defined in this
Article 8- The States Parties to the present Convention
a) assist each other promptly and expeditiously through
their Central Authorities, as permitted by the domestic laws
of each State and by applicable international treaties, to
conduct judicial and administrative proceedings, to take
evidence, and to take any other procedural steps that may be
necessary for fulfilling the objectives of this Convention;
b) establish through their Central Authorities mechanisms
for the exchange of information about any domestic statute,
case law, administrative practices, statistics and
modalities regarding international traffic in minors in
their States; and
c) order such measures as may be necessary to remove any
obstacles that might affect the enforcement of this
Convention in their States.
Article 9- The following shall have competence in cases of
crimes involving international traffic in minors:
a) the State Party where the wrongful conduct occurred;
b) the State Party that is the habitual residence of the
c) the State Party in which the alleged offender is located
if said offender has not been extradited.
d) the State Party in which the minor who is a victim of
said traffic is located.
For the purposes of the preceding paragraph, the State Party
that first conducted formal proceedings concerning the
wrongful act shall have preference.
Article 10- If one of the States Parties where extradition
is subject to the existence of a treaty receives a request
for extradition from a State Party with which it has no such
treaty, or if it has such a treaty, this crime is not among
the extraditable offenses, it may consider the present
Convention as the legal grounds needed to grant extradition
in the case of the international traffic in minors.
Further, States Parties that do not make extradition
conditional on the existence of a treaty shall recognize the
international traffic in minors as a basis for extradition
between them. Where no extradition treaty exists,
extradition shall be subject to the other conditions
required by the domestic laws of the requested State.
Article 11- The actions taken in accordance with the
provisions of this chapter shall not prevent the competent
authorities of the State Party where the minor is located
from ordering, at any time, said minor's immediate return to
the State of his or her habitual residence, bearing in mind
the best interests of the minor.
Article 12- A request for locating and returning a minor
under the present Convention shall be lodged by those
entitled to do so by the laws of the State where the minor
Article 13- The judicial or administrative authorities of
the State Party of the minor's habitual residence, or those
of the State Party where the minor is or is assumed to be
retained, shall be competent to hear the request for the
minor's location and return, at the option of the
When in the complainants' view there are urgent reasons, the
request may be submitted to the judicial or administrative
authorities of the State Party where the wrongful act
Article 14- The request for locating and returning shall not
require authentication and shall be processed through the
Central Authorities or directly through the competent
authorities referred to in Article 13 of the present
Convention. The requested authorities shall decide upon the
most expeditious procedures for effecting it.
After receiving the request, the requested authorities shall
order the necessary steps taken in accordance with their
domestic laws to initiate, facilitate, and assist the
judicial and administrative procedures involved in locating
and returning the minor. In addition, steps shall be taken
to ensure the immediate return of the minor, and where
necessary, to ensure his or her care, custody or provisional
guardianship, depending on the circumstances, and, as a
preventive measure, to bar the minor from being wrongfully
removed to another State.
The request, stating grounds for location and return of the
minor, shall be lodged within one hundred and twenty days
after the wrongful removal or retention of the minor has
been detected. If the request for location and return is
lodged by a State Party, the latter shall do so within one
hundred and eighty days.
When it is necessary to take action before locating the
minor, the above-mentioned period shall run from the day on
which a person or authority entitled to file the request is
informed that the minor has been located.
Irrespective of the above, the authorities of the State
Party where the minor is retained may at any time order his
or her return if it is in the minor's best interests.
Article 15- The authentication or similar formalities
otherwise required shall be unnecessary when requests for
cooperation encompassed by this Convention are transmitted
via consular or diplomatic channels or via the Central
Authorities, and when conveyed directly from one tribunal to
another in the border area of the States Parties. No
authentication in the requesting State Party shall be
required in the case of related documents returned via the
Where necessary, the requests shall be translated into the
official language or languages of the State Party to which
they are addressed. With respect to attachments, a
translation of the summary of the essential information
Article 16- Having confirmed that a victim of traffic in
minors is present within their jurisdiction, the competent
authorities of a State Party shall take such immediate
measures as may be necessary for the minor's protection,
including those of a preventive nature to ensure that the
minor is not improperly removed to another State.
The Central Authorities shall inform the competent
authorities of the State of the minor's previous habitual
residence of all such measures. The intervening authorities
shall take such steps as may be necessary to keep the
persons or authorities seeking the minor's location and
return duly informed of the measures adopted.
Article 17- In keeping with the purposes of this Convention,
the Central Authorities of the States Parties shall exchange
information and cooperate with their competent judicial and
administrative authorities on all matters concerning control
of the entry of minors into and departure from their
Article 18- Adoptions and other similar legal proceedings
performed in a State Party shall be subject to annulment if
they had their origin or purpose in international traffic in
In such annulment, the minor's best interests shall be taken
into account at all times.
The annulment shall be subject to the law and the competent
authorities of the State where the adoption or legal
proceedings concerned took place.
Article 19- Care or custody of a minor may be revoked
whenever it has its origin or purpose in the international
traffic in minors, under the same conditions provided for in
the preceding article.
Article 20- A request for locating and returning a minor may
be lodged without prejudice to the annulment and revocation
actions provided for in Articles 18 and 19.
Article 21- In any proceeding provided for under this
chapter, the competent authority may order the person or
organization responsible for international traffic in minors
to pay the costs and expenses of locating and returning the
minor if such person or organization is a party to the
person or authority lodging a request for the return or,
where applicable, the competent authority may bring a civil
action to recover costs, including legal fees and the
expenses of locating and returning the minor, unless said
costs were already assessed in a criminal proceeding or a
proceeding under this chapter.
The competent authority or any injured person or authority
may bring a civil action for damages against the persons or
organizations responsible for the international traffic in
minors involving the minor.
Article 22- The States Parties shall adopt the measures
needed to ensure that no costs are charged for proceedings
to secure the return of the minor, in accordance with their
laws and shall advise persons legitimately interested in the
return of the minor of the public defender services,
benefits to the needy and other forms of free legal aid to
which they may be entitled under the laws and regulations of
the respective States Parties.
Article 23- Each State Party may, at the time of signature,
ratification, or accession to the present Convention or at
any time thereafter, declare that it will recognize and
execute criminal judgments handed down in other States
Parties in respect of awards of damages resulting from the
international traffic in minors.
Article 24- In the case of a State which has two or more
systems of law applicable in different territorial units
with respect to matters covered by the Convention, any
a) the law of the State shall be construed as referring to
the law in the territorial unit in question;
b) habitual residence in that State shall be construed as
referring to habitual residence in a territorial unit of
c) the competent authorities of that State shall be
construed as referring to those authorized to act in the
relevant territorial unit.
Article 25- If a State has two or more territorial units in
which different systems of law apply in relation to the
matters dealt with in this Convention, it may, at the time
of signature, ratification or accession, declare that this
Convention shall extend to all its territorial units or to
only one or more of them.
Such declaration may be modified by subsequent declarations,
which shall expressly indicate the territorial unit or units
to which the Convention applies. Such subsequent
declarations shall be transmitted to the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States, and shall become
effective ninety days after the date of their receipt.
Article 26- Each State Party may, at the time of signature,
ratification or accession to the present Convention or at
any time thereafter, declare that it will not entertain in
any civil suit a challenge to the existence of the facts of
the crime or the guilt of the person convicted when a
conviction has been handed down for this crime in another
Article 27- The competent authorities in border areas of the
States Parties may, at any time, directly agree on more
expeditious procedures to locate and return minors than
those provided for in the present Convention and without
None of the provisions in the present Convention shall be
interpreted as restricting the more favorable practices that
the competent authorities of the States Parties may agree to
follow for the matters covered by this Convention.
Article 28- This Convention shall be open to signature by
the member states of the Organization of American States.
Article 29- This Convention shall be subject to
ratification. The instruments of ratification shall be
deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization
of American States.
Article 30- This Convention shall remain open for accession
by any other State after it has entered into force. The
instruments of accession shall be deposited with the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
Article 31- Each State may, at the time of signature,
ratification or accession, make reservations to this
Convention, provided that each reservation concerns one or
more specific provisions and is not incompatible with the
purposes and objectives of this Convention.
Article 32- None of the provisions in this Convention shall
be construed as limiting other bilateral or multilateral
treaties or other agreements entered into between the
Article 33- This Convention shall enter into force for the
ratifying States on the thirtieth day following the date of
deposit of the second instrument of ratification.
For each State ratifying or acceding to the Convention after
the deposit of the second instrument of ratification, the
Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after
deposit by such State of its instrument of ratification or
Article 34- This Convention shall remain in force
indefinitely, but any of the States Parties may denounce it.
The instrument of denunciation shall be deposited with the
General Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
After one year from the date of deposit of the instrument of
denunciation, the Convention shall no longer be in force for
the denouncing State.
Article 35- The original instrument of this Convention, the
English, French, Portuguese and Spanish texts of which are
equally authentic, shall be deposited with the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States, which
shall forward an authenticated copy of its text to the
Secretariat of the United Nations for registration and
publication in accordance with Article 102 of its Charter.
The General Secretariat of the Organization of American
States shall notify the Member States of the Organization
and the States that have acceded to the Convention of the
signatures, deposits of instruments of ratification,
accession and denunciation, as well as of reservations, if
any, and of their withdrawal.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned Plenipotentiaries, being
duly authorized thereto by their respective Governments, do
hereby sign the present Convention.
DONE AT MEXICO, D.F., MEXICO, this eighteenth day of March,
one thousand nine hundred and ninety-four.