Help end child detention

Guidance for NGOs

Guidance on how NGOs can engage with the Global Study at national level, which is also available here.


1. Join the NGO panel

The NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty coordinates joint advocacy and lobbying efforts for the Study.

Any NGOs working on children's rights can request to become a member. For more information, please see the website of the NGO Panel for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.


2. Lobby your Government to support the Global Study

Financial support

A lack of funding has prevented work of the Global Study from progressing and has meant no methodology can be set out and no timeline can be put in place, meaning it is not possible to hold consultations or to collect evidence.

Though some States are now in talks about providing financial contributions, there is still the possibility that if the minimum level of funding isn't reached, the Global Study will not go ahead.

It is vital for the UN and Member States to step up and match their rhetoric with action to ensure the Study is adequately funded. You can add your voice to our call for action by urging your government to provide resources to the Study.


Data collection to document the numbers of children deprived of liberty will be at the heart of the Global Study. This will include disaggregated statistics regarding age, gender, and vulnerable groups, and the reason/basis for detention. It is vital that States fill out the questionnaires with the requested information.


3. Lobby your Government on child detention

Public pressure must be part of the effort to end child detention. Individual and group actions to convince governments of the need for change can take many forms, and may include a variety of different actors.

The first step for individuals or groups concerned with ending child detention will be to write to their political representatives, the country’s ministry of justice, or the ministry associated with protecting the rights of children. Presenting evidence of the harm that detention does to children and demonstrating the strength of public opinion against it will go a long way to changing the minds of the people in power.

Support national and grassroots campaigns
Ending child detention requires action at a local and national level and many national, grassroots campaigns have been the most effective  in calling for an end to the detention of children.

National organisations
Organisations dealing with children deprived of liberty in one country are uniquely placed to act as a spokesperson to the public, the government and the media on their behalf. Coordinating and organising national campaigns, protests and advocacy will be vital to presenting a coherent vision for ending child detention in every country.

Detention of children persists, in part, because the situation of children deprived of their liberty remains out of the public eye. Those with tools and knowledge to investigate national situations can help by publishing information about the numbers of children in detention. This could involve using freedom of information laws to reveal the true scale of child detention, or partnering with national groups that monitor places where children are detained, in order to tell their stories.

4. Identifying the Government Focal Point and collaborate!

Governments received the Questionnaire and information about the Global Study in February 2018. They were asked to identify a focal point inside the Government that would be in charge of coordinating the Study at national level, to identifying all Ministries and departments that should provide information and data. All governments received a reminder in June 2018. There is a need for NGOs to identify this focal point, make sure that one has been appointed (otherwise, advocate for its appointment) and that it has taken its role seriously and is effectively acting as focal point. Ideally, the NGOs should work together with the focal point of the Government.

The independent expert has asked that where possible NGOs work with the Government focal point to provide a single response to the questionnaire, though there will be situations where this is not possible and NGOs can submit individual responses or joint responses alongside other NGOs. It is very important to keep in mind the date of 26 th of June 2018 , which was chosen for the snapshot to capture how many children are deprived of liberty on that particular day.

5. Check the data collected by the Government Focal Points

Civil society will often be in the best position to verify the accuracy of statistics that States provide as part of the Study and can verify the data provided by the Government across the six themes of the Study. NGOs could contribute to this effort by mapping places where children may be deprived of liberty to ensure facilities are not ignored. NGOs are also invited to fill in the same questionnaire as the States (or ensure that their input is included in the State’s questionnaire) and gather information available, centralize relevant material; verify the contributions received etc.

6. Identify research, studies, interesting practices

NGOs, civil society, academics, and research centers are invited to identify data, research, studies and reports etc. that have been published and list them. Ideally, they should provide summaries to make these more accessible. If possible, they can conduct new research to fill in the gaps of the existing knowledge (taking into account that there is no financial support provided by the Study).


7. Get involved with consultation

National NGOs can take part in the regional consultations and other activities organised by the research team of the Global Study. This can involve helping identify possibilities for consultations, such as if there are already meetings or conferences within the region that could serve as an opportunity for consultations, or helping organize consultations. If you would like to discuss consultations with the NGO Panel, contact:


8. Organise a seminar to present the results

NGOs could also organize a public event aiming at presenting the results of the research and data collection in order to raise awareness of the situation of children deprived of liberty at national level and on the need to give the priority to non-custodial measures. They could also organize a public event to present the Study itself once it is published.


9. Follow-up

Once the Study has been published, NGOs should consider ensuring its follow up, identifying the main recommendations that should be applied as a priority in their respective countries. We will share further details of advocacy opportunities and activities in the future. Civil society will have a key role in monitoring compliance of the recommendations put forward in the Study and integrating Study-related activities into their organizational work plans for the next three years and beyond.


10. Contact us

Do you have a question for us about the UN Study, or have something you would like to share with us? Please get in touch using the form below and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.