UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
The Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children (Guidelines) were formally endorsed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 20 November 2009. The Guidelines enhance the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child 1989 and focuses on two main aspects:
- Ensure that children do not find themselves in alternative care unnecessarily; and
- That where out-of-home care is provided, it is delivered under appropriate conditions responding to the child's rights and best interests.
ISS commitment to the Guidelines from the beginning
ISS is extremely pleased with the outcome at the UNGA given its early involvement from 2004 with UNICEF, when the call for International Standards was first made and both organisations initiated a consultation process for the Guidelines.
These joint efforts sparked further progress in 2005, when the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child held a day of general discussion on children without parental care. In its final report, the Committee recommended the establishment of an expert meeting to prepare a set of international standards for the protection of children without parental care for the UNGA. In response, ISS with other key groups prepared an initial draft of the Guidelines.
A proposal was submitted for consultation to States and Governments in Brasilia in August 2006. As a result of this intergovernmental meeting - a "Group of Friends" made up of 15 interested States led by the Government of Brazil - was established to spearhead the process.
Numerous consultations were held in Cairo, Geneva and New York etc with various Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs and of course children. In 2009, a text was agreed upon and on June 17, 2009 the Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a procedural resolution A/HRC/11/L.11 submitting the "Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children" to the UNGA for the 20th anniversary of the UNCRC.
ISS continues its advocacy role now and into the future
ISS is now actively promoting the dissemination and implementation of the Guidelines through various channels. ISS and SOS Children's Villages International have launched a small publication of introductory questions to gauge whether the national policy reflects the principles espoused in the Guidelines (see below).
ISS has undertaken a lead role in the development of the Implementation and Monitoring Handbook for the Guidelines, managing consultants as well as an international Steering Group made up of ATD 4th World, Better Care Network, RELAF, SOS-Children's Villages International and UNICEF.
ISS as the co-convener of the NGO Working Group on Children without Parental Care based in Geneva has also drafted and finalised joint strategy to promote alternative care issues at the United Nations with its parallel working group based in New York. In addition to the handbook efforts mentioned above, this work will involve building "champions" for these issues within country missions as well as lobbying the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child so that the Day of General Discussion in 2014 will focus on strengthening and supporting families and caregivers.
Furthermore, ISS is undertaking treaty body mainstreaming activities to ensure that all the treaties (in addition to the CRC Committee) are aware of the Guidelines and if relevant, refer to them in their discussion with State members as well as include them in their concluding observations.
For more information
• Read, use and circulate our Factsheet on Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children (up to now, available only in English.
• Read joint strategy to promote alternative care issues at the United Nations
• Read ISS Special series of articles relating to the guidelines
• Visit the NGO group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child: www.childrightsnet.org
• Visit the Better Care Network website: www.crin.org/BCN
- Moving Forward: Implementing the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
- Protecting "all" rights of children through treaty body mainstreaming efforts