International Surrogacy Arrangements

International Surrogacy Arrangements

An Urgent Need for a Legal Regulation at the International Level

Funded by

Nuffield Foundation

Principal Investigator

Professor Paul Beaumont, School of Law, University of Aberdeen, Old Aberdeen, AB24 3UB, Scotland/United Kingdom, tel. +44 (0) 1224 272439, email:

Research Fellow

Dr Katarina Trimmings, School of Law, University of Aberdeen, Old Aberdeen, AB24 3UB, Scotland/United Kingdom, tel. +44 (0) 1224 273125, email:

In July 2010, the Nuffield Foundation awarded a grant of over £112.000 to Professor Paul Beaumont and Dr Katarina Trimmings to conduct a study into private international law aspects of international surrogacy arrangements. The work on the project commenced on 1 August and the award is tenable for two years. The ultimate goal of the research is to explore possible types of international regulation of surrogacy arrangements, and to prepare a document that could assist in the process of preparation of a possible future international Convention on surrogacy.

Please note: this academic research project is separate and independent from the work of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. For further information concerning the work of the Hague Conference in this area, please see their website here.


Recent developments and research in the area of reproductive medicine have resulted in various treatment options becoming available to infertile couples. One of them is the use of a surrogate mother in cases where the female partner of a couple is unable to carry a child. Surrogacy attained public visibility over two decades ago, in the mid-1980s. Since then, despite controversies over ethical aspects of surrogate motherhood, surrogacy has become an increasingly popular method of reproductive technology.

Surrogacy targets the same clientele as its counterpart, adoption. It follows that with an increasingly limited global "market" for adoption, surrogacy will continue expanding. It is no exaggeration to say that the modern world has already witnessed a development of an extensive "international surrogacy market". This "market", although initially largely unnoticed, has recently attracted a great deal of interest by the media.

A source of worry, however, is the completely unregulated character of global surrogacy. Addressing this issue, this timely project seeks to explore possible types of legal regulation of surrogacy arrangements at an international level. The project does not aspire to address ethical questions surrounding surrogacy. It is based on the premise that as the number of international surrogacy agreements rapidly rises, there is an increasingly urgent need for international regulation of this pressing socio-legal problem.