Latest news


March 2018 - World Congress on Justice for Children 28-30 May

World Congress on Justice for Children will be held from 28-30 May 2018 to address three major issues:

➜ The global trend towards children’s involvement in violent extremism and possible responses,

➜ The need for more effective ways to reduce juvenile offending and recidivism,

➜ How to improve protection mechanisms for vulnerable children, including early prevention.

The 2018 World Congress is organised by a consortium of international organisations composed by the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates (IAYFJM), Terre des hommes Foundation, and Penal Reform International (PRI) with Child Rights International Network (CRIN), Defence for Children International (DCI), Judicial Training Institute of Belgium (IGO-IFJ) and the Information for All Programme (IFAP) of UNESCO.

The event will feature two days of plenaries with high level speakers and one day of workshops, run in four languages (English, French, Spanish and Arabic). Attendees will include lawyers, judges, NGOs, States, professional bodies.

You can find out more and sign up to attend the World Congress here.

November 2017

The 11th European Forum on the rights of the child will be dedicated to children deprived of liberty.

September 2017

The Council of Europe will host a conference on 11-12 September looking at the detention of children in social welfare institutions in Prague.

June 2017

An open letter to the UN, UN Agencies and Member States

We are writing on behalf of a network of nearly 140 nongovernmental organizations around the world to urge all governments to respond to the recent United Nations funding appeal for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. The UN General Assembly requested that the Secretary-General commission this Study, Professor Manfred Nowak has been appointed as an Independent Expert to lead the effort, but the whole process is now at risk without proper funding.

For this reason, we are urging all UN Member States to provide crucially needed financial support to the Study and wish to stress three main arguments explaining why such support is critical:

1. The Study is a tool to support Member States in meeting their obligations under international law and fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals commit to leaving no one behind. Yet this commitment cannot be met, if children deprived of liberty remain uncounted. We do not know how many children are detained worldwide, and without even this basic information it is impossible to respond to their needs. Children deprived of liberty are more likely to become victims of violence and exploitation and usually do not enjoy their rights to education, health care and access to justice. These children should be considered as among the furthest behind. Fulfilling the ambitious vision set by the SDGs requires that all children, particularly those living outside of their home environment, are counted and their situations addressed.

2. The Study will be a catalyst for change and a milestone in the development of alternatives to detention of children

Like the two previous UN studies on children—the 1996 Study on Children and Armed Conflict led by Graça Machel and the 2006 Study on Violence against Children led by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro— the UN Study on Children Deprived of Liberty has the potential of bringing global attention to critical issues relating the deprivation of children and sparking far-reaching national and global reforms. The Study is a tool that will provide concrete recommendations in law, policy and practice to Member States on all forms of deprivation of liberty. Carrying out this Study does not need a permanent mandate to be established to translate the results into long-lasting impact. Follow-up can be mainstreamed into the existing mandates of UN agencies already working on different aspects and forms of detention of children.

Too many children are unnecessary deprived of their liberty, causing significant harm. This Study will present practical and effective solutions to treat children in a better way.

3. In the long-term, investing in the Study and in alternatives to detention will lead to significant savings and societal benefits

There is a cost for the Study, but this can be offset by enormous social and financial benefits. Studies have shown that reducing the number of children deprived of liberty can result in higher levels of education, better livelihoods, lower crime rates, and healthier communities. Reducing children in detention can also provide substantial financial benefits to States: developing effective non-custodial measures is less costly than investing in detention facilities. Importantly, the Study is not a naming and shaming exercise, nor an end in itself.

Therefore, we call upon your Excellencies to respond to the United Nations funding appeal for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. Individual contributions from States do not need to be large to make the Study possible. Small contributions from many States could make the Study a reality.


March 2017

An expert meeting led by Independent Expert Manfred Nowak is held at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice, Italy, to develop an in-depth questionnaire for the Global Study.


December 2016

The General Assembly asks the independent expert to submit the final report for the Study to the General Assembly in September 2018 (read the resolution).


October 2016

Professor Manfred Nowak is appointed as an independent expert to lead the Study (read the press release).


December 2014

The UN General Assembly requests an in-depth global Study on children deprived of liberty (read the resolution). The resolution requests that the Study be presented to the General Assembly in 2017, but delays to the process now mean that the report will not be finalised until 2018 at the earliest.


May 2014

The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends to the General Assembly that a Study be undertaken on children deprived of their liberty (read the letter). NGOs launch a call for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty alongside UN experts and States.


March 2014

NGOs launch a call for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty alongside UN experts and States.