20 November 2013
Universal Children's Day and the Adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Today the International Social Service network celebrates the Universal Children's Day and the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989.
To date, the CRC has been signed by 192 nations, of which only 2 have not yet ratified it.
Despite the worldwide ratification of the CRC and although the ideas to preserve children's rights and to protect them are universally accepted concepts in the 21st century with tremendous positive impact on the children's life. The practical application of the CRC could still be very much improved. Transforming the engaging words of the articles of the convention into acts remains far from being accomplished globally.
In the complex arena of child protection, where urgency of action should be the driving force, the International Social Service, which was established in 1924 to "protect and unite children and families across borders" calls on all actors of society, at national and international levels, to continue to spare no effort to make the CRC a reality, in every neighborhood, in every town, in every nation and across borders worldwide.
4 - 9 Novembre
Mission de Formation au Burkina-Faso du 4 au 9 novembre 2013 :
Le SSI s'est rendu au Burkina-Faso début novembre 2013 dans le cadre d'une formation de formateurs dédiée à l'accompagnement des familles postulantes à l'adoption nationale. Ces journées de travail, organisées par l'autorité centrale pour l'adoption et l'OAA danois « AC child support » visaient à former 35 travailleurs sociaux issus des 13 régions du pays pour améliorer l'information et la préparation des familles adoptantes au niveau nationale de plus en plus nombreuses. Invitée par l'Autorité centrale pour l'adoption burkinabè, l'équipe du SSI composée de Marie JENNY et du Dr Fanny COHEN-HERLEM, est intervenu sur le développement de l'enfant, la préparation des parents adoptants à la rencontre avec l'enfant et la préparation de l'enfant.
En marge de ces formations, le SSI a réalisé une première prise de contact avec les autorités et a évalué les besoins prioritaires dans le cadre du projet en faveur des enfants handicapés privés de famille. Un atelier de consultation avec les enfants d'un orphelinat a été réalisé autour du Carnet de Vie, document développé par le SSI. Cet atelier a permis de recueillir les commentaires des enfants et de leurs nourrices et va permettre sa finalisation d'ici la fin de l'année.
Public Hearing Advisory Opinion by the states of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay on migrant children
On the 9 and 10 of October the public hearing of Advisory opinion for Migrant Children was held in Mexico City. The advisory opinion was asked for the states of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In the public hearing many observations were presented by some of the Member States of the Organization of American (OAS) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, together with civil society organizations. In this regard the states of Argentina , Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay requested the Court " to move forward in defining legal standards on the following topics : 1. Procedures for determining international protection needs special protection measures for children and adolescents, migrants , 2. System guarantees that should apply in immigration proceedings involving children and adolescent migrants 3. Standards for precautionary measures in immigration proceedings on the basis of the principle of non-arrest of migrant children. 4. Rights protection measures that should be available on a priority basis and do not entail restrictions on personal freedom. 5.State obligations in cases of custody of children for immigration purposes .6. Due process guarantees to measures involving deprivation of liberty of children in the context of immigration proceedings . 7.Principle of non-refoulement in relation to migrant children .8. Procedures for the identification and treatment of child asylum seekers or any shelter. 9. The right to family life of children in cases of expulsion provided for immigration of their parents. "In this regard, the International Social Service (ISS) and the Latin American Foster Care Network, for the Right to community and family( RELAF ) decided to present as amicus curiae on February 16, 2012 and orally at the hearing on October 10th this year. The presentation was based from the perspective of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of children adopted by the General Assembly in November 2009. We hope that the observations presented by various organizations will contribute to a legal framework of protection for migrant children. To see the video go to: http://vimeo.com/album/2563314/video/76653316
23 - 27 September
Ghana: ISS working with Government, UNICEF and other stakeholders to improve adoption and foster care procedures
ISS has been mandated by UNICEF Ghana to provide technical assistance to the Ghanaian Government in its efforts to finalise its adoption and foster care regulations that have been drafted by technical working groups in the country. A team of experts from within ISS as well international child protection consultant Nigel Cantwell and two experts from Ghana will carry out the work. ISS has undertaken its first of three missions focusing on adoptions in the last week of September to meet with stakeholders including among others government representatives, residential homes for children, accredited adoption bodies, lawyers, embassies of receiving countries as well traditional leaders including a Queen mother association. The issues raised at these meetings (e.g.: consent, matching, number of courts with adoption powers, fees, licensing and accreditation of actors etc) will inform the revisions to the regulations, with a view of ensuring that they are culturally relevant as well as compliant with international standards, notably THC-93. A second mission will be undertaken in the latter part of the year with a view of finalising the adoption regulation as well undertake training on the functions of a central adoption authority as well the development of an implementation plan for ratificiation of THC-93. The last two missions planned in the next six months will also focus on foster care regulations and training. ISS looks forward to advancing children's rights in Ghana and is hopeful of progress given the clear commitment of actors in the field.
12 - 14 September 2013
18th Nordic meeting of the Nordic Adoption Council
ISS actively participated at the 18th Nordic meeting organised by the Nordic Adoption Council in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. This event was a great occasion to bring together all the adoption actors of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway and Sweden) to strengthen existing ties, create new opportunities for cooperation and exchange promising practices, particularly in post adoption support. The presentation of ISS on the Legal and practical considerations for research of origins- with a special focus on illegal adoptions and social media was warmly welcomed, generating a very interesting discussion amongst the participants. The meeting was an excellent occasion to learn about new aspects in adoption procedures as well as to consolidate our strong relationship with these countries that have been financing the ISS/IRC for several years.
International surrogacy: ISS publishes a special issue on this thematic
We are pleased to announce the publication of a Special Issue on international surrogacy uniquely reserved for the subscribers of the ISS/IRC monthly review which includes contributions of actors from different professional and geographical horizons. It offers an overview of ongoing work and advanced research in this area from a child protection perspective.
International surrogacy: a new field of investigation for ISS
Given the rapid development of the use of surrogate mothers at the international level, ISS is now investing in this new theme. By taking an institutional position (downloadable here), the organisation wishes to draw the attention of the public as well as professionals about the risks of this particular mode of reproduction, which currently operates without any regulation. ISS intends to develop advocacy strategies, undertake research and fundraising activities in order that this subject be addressed quickly at the international level.
ISS is publishing a handbook on international family mediation
ISS is publishing a handbook on international family mediation; this publication is the first of its kind and targets families likely to benefit from this mode of conflict resolution. With such a sensitisation tool, ISS practically supports states' action in promoting mediation.
While resorting to mediation for conflicts with an international dimension is gaining momentum, the handbook aims to inform families of benefits they could access by choosing mediation, in particular for the complex and delicate cases of international parental child abduction.
To guaranty the handbook's content and its universal value, ISS created an advisory board of internationally renowned experts in the field of mediation, international law, child psychology and intercultural studies. The ISS Mediation Unit organized 2 round tables in Geneva (June and July 2013) to press ahead with the guide content. Institutions like The Hague Conference on international private law and the AIFI* support and participate in this global pioneer project. The handbook will be published first in French, English and online and distributed throughout the world via several ISS partner organisations.
*AIFI (Association internationale francophone des intervenants auprès des familles séparées)
17 - 18 June 2013
EASO Expert Meeting on Family Tracing in Malta
ISS actively participated in an expert meeting on family tracing organised by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) on 17-18 June 2013 in Malta. This event, which took place within the framework of the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Unaccompanied Minors, brought together representatives of EU Member States as well as the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Organisation for Migration and ISS. The meeting offered the opportunity to share current practices on family tracing and constituted a good basis for further discussion on developing a common approach between EU Member States in collaboration with international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
ISS Australia "Home Safe Home"
ISS Australia today launched a new report, entitled "Home Safe Home" (see pdf attached), which looks at children migrating to Australia for the purposes of kinship care. In particular, the research and report focused on those arrangements that do not involve assessment of carer suitability or the provision of pre- or post-placement support. Essentially, these are cases in which there is no functioning child protection system in place in the child's country or origin (or residence), to request an in-depth assessment of potential kinship carers.
11 - 19 April 2013
Implementation of the project "Finding a family for children with disabilities in institutions": training and exchange workshops in Azerbaijan
Under the ISS project helping children with disabilities in institutions, training and exchange workshops were held in Baku from April 11-19, 2013with the help of international experts & our local partner, UAFA (United Aid for Azerbaïdjan), a NGO. A two-day seminar was held with the relevant authorities on issues concerning alternative care & adoption for children with disabilities in institutions. Following this seminar, training and exchange workshops were held in two host institutions for children with disabilities in Baku for a week. Many topics were discussed such as caring for children with disabilities in an institution, observation of the child, the assessment & preparation of the child's life project. In addition to educating professionals on these topics, these workshops have provided ISS feedback from field workers on the use of "Life book" a document developed by ISS that will them to improve it. The BAKU mission also helped refine the overall project methodology.
15 April 2013
Presentation of the Guidelines/Handbook to the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ISS co-presented with Save the Children and SOS Children's Villages the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children as well as the implementation handbook, Moving Forward, at the ACERWC's 21st session in April. It was an excellent opportunity to raise the awareness of these African experts, many being acquainted with the text for the first time, with the hope that the ACERWC would start systematically including questions/recommendations on the Guidelines' issues (e.g. prevention of separation and focus on a range of quality alternative care options) when examining States. Being embedded in their mandate under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and anchored in the UNCRC, the ACERWC was very open to these recommendations, already starting with a reference to the Guidelines during this session. To follow up, a proposal is also being discussed about having a one-day session on the Guidelines at their next session in November. Moreover advocates on the ground are lobbying for the next African Day of the Child (16 June 2014) to be dedicated to family strengthening and preventing separation. ISS looks forward to working more closely with the ACERWC and to providing any support that is possible.
Source : ISS internal briefing notes, April 2013.
28 - 29 March 2013
Vietnam: Ongoing progress in intercountry adoption reforms but more time and space still needed
During a technical meeting with stakeholders on 29 March 2013, ISS presented its qualitative report on root causes of abandonment and relinquishment in Vietnam - to be finalised middle of the year. ISS took the opportunity to meet with the Central Adoption Authority who explained its multiple efforts to implement the HC-1993, such as training of judiciary, social affairs and institution staff on the operations of adoption laws as well as the development of a guide for adoption actors on the entire adoption process (e.g. matching, humanitarian aid and the role of accredited bodies, etc). ISS commends such efforts, noting however, that without the finalisation of this guide as well as training on it contents, practices continue to be varied lacking uniformity among the provinces. In addition, more support is required to ensure the principle of subsidiarity is respected, so that the national adoption system is strengthened with the preparation courses for domestic PAPs as well as promotion of family reintegration programmes. In this context, ISS encourages receiving countries to give Vietnam the "time and space" to fully establish the structures in needs to better guarantee the rights of the child.
Source : Briefing notes from an ISS meeting with the Central Adoption Authority in Vietnam.
18 March 2013
Haiti joint mission with the Hague Permanent BureauA week's mission to Haiti by ISS USG and a senior official from the Hague Permanent Bureau has just ended. The objective were to evaluate the Haitian central authority current needs and provide legal support for the upcoming law on adoption to be debated shortly by the Haitian Parliament; the mission included training of professionals in charge of child protection as well
In the course of this visit several high level meetings at ministerial and parliamentary levels as well as with receiving countries consular services were on the agenda to highlight roles played by ISS and the Permanent bureau. AS a reminder ISS has taken a bid to fill in a Haiti based expert position in support of the Haitian central authorities and financed by the international community.
For more info please click on the following link ( French only)
13 December 2012
Fundraising in Kilimandjaro
In an admirable effort to rally financial support for the General Secretariat, ISS Hong Kong branch Chairman, Mr C P Ho made an arduous eight-day climb to scale Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the African continent.
"Once on the trail, climbers undergo a metamorphosis of the mind", wrote C P in an article published in Hong Kong's leading English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post on December 4. "They know that, in the days to come, colour and creed do not matter. Nor does money or politics. Only strong legs and good lungs will get them to the top of Mount Kili".
C P made it to the top of the 5895m high Uhuru Peak on October 29, 2012. His endeavour was saluted by the ISS Governing Board and the General Secretariat Staff.
10 December 2012
Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day presents an opportunity, every year, to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.
This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people - women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized - to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.
These human rights - the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government (articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the "99%" made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.
27 November 2012
ISS meets with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR Committee)
As part of its treaty body mainstreaming efforts, ISS with SOS Children's Villages International (SOS-CVI) presented the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of the Children to members of the CESCR Committee and OHCHR staff.
The lunchtime meeting highlighted issues such as how poverty is often the main cause separating the child from his or her parents, as well as how obstacles in accessing employment, adequate housing and education are risk factors for abandonment or relinquishment.
The CESCR Committee were able to see how the rights in the CESCR are closely linked to situations covered by the Guidelines.
Based on the presentation and briefing notes prepared by ISS and SOS-CVI, the CESCR Committee have included a reference to the Guidelines in their concluding observations for Bulgaria: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/docs/E.C.12.BGR.CO.4-5.pdf
19 - 21 November 2012
Migration dialogue between civil society, Diasporas and states in Mauritius
ISS Swiss branch participated with a Swiss Delegation in the "migration dialogue between civil society, Diasporas and states" forum that was held between November 19th and 21st in Mauritius. Our Swiss colleagues moderated a workshop on the issue of migrant children stressing this specific topic should be discussed at future migratory dialogue meetings
20 November 2012
Today ISS celebrates the Universal Children's Day !
31 October 2012
ISS continues its treaty body mainstreaming efforts with the Committee against Torture (CAT)
ISS with SOS Children's Villages International presented the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children during a lunch time presentation supported by the NGO Group for the CRC. It was an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the CAT Committee on cross-cutting issues between CAT and the Guidelines.
One aim was to show how violence within the family can lead to the child's separation from his/her family with issues such as harmful traditional practices (e.g.: use of child brides and exchange of children for debts) and lack of preventative mechanisms. Another objective was to illustrate how children are exploited and violated in different alternative care settings such as in informal care (e.g.: use of household aids), formal care (e.g.: children living in quaranic schools being used to beg for food by marabouts) and outside of country of habitual residence (e.g.: children being trafficked).
The CAT Committee were extremely receptive of the presentation engaging in lengthy dialogue with the presenters. The CAT Committee agreed in principle to raise alternative care issues with the State Parties.
The full briefing note can be accessed at: Protecting children from violence in the family and alternative care settings_October 2012
12 October 2012
Protecting "all" rights of children through treaty body mainstreaming efforts
International Social Service (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.
This work is being done in its capacity as co-convenor of the NGO WG on children without parental care based in Geneva and involves close collaboration with key stakeholders. Thus far organisations such as the Better Care Network, Family for EveryChild, Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment, International Disability Alliance, RELAF, SOS Children's Villages International, UNICEF and international child protection consultant Nigel Cantwell have provided important information to be included in briefing notes prepared by ISS to be submitted to the various treaty bodies. Based on these briefing notes, ISS and SOS Children's Villages have made short presentations to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The CRPD have taken on board our recommendations as seen in their concluding observations on Argentina, Chile and Hungary.
ISS firmly believes that by raising the awareness of all the treaty bodies to children's rights in alternative care outlined in the Guidelines, this will improve the opportunities for children to fully access their rights as individual holders of rights. ISS will continue this work during 2012 and 2013 with meetings lined with the Committee Against Torture (CAT) and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).
Briefing note on children with disabilities in alternative care - see
Safeguarding the rights of children with disabilities in alternative care_September 2012
Briefing note on mothers and girls in the family and in alternative care - see
Protecting mothers and girls in the family and in alternative care settings_October 2012
11 September 2012
ISS and its network - join forces at the United Nations
ISS and its network are showcasing their experience and good practices working with children in the context of international migration by submitting a joint paper to the Committee on the Rights of Children for its Day of General Discussion on this topic on 28 September 2012. As a pioneer working with children facing legal, social and economic barriers across borders since its establishment in 1924, ISS and its network can clearly demonstrate its expertise in issues such as family tracing, working with multiple levels of bureaucracy and developing sustainable permanency plans for children - all in line with the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children.
For more information, see ISS submission DGD International Migration 2012
12, 13 and 14 July 2012
Chemin de la belle étoile - A performance on adoption supported by ISS
We have the pleasure to invite you to experience a unique journey, exploring the life of a human being who was adopted as an infant by a French family in Lebanon. Through music and storytelling techniques, you will be accompanying the actor in his return to origins, full of surprises as well as ambivalent emotions. Come and share this captivating performance on June 12, 2012 in Delémont, on June 13, 2012 in Neuchâtel or on June 14, 2012 in Geneva. To make your booking, please click on the city of your choice for additional information.
23 - 25 May 2012
International Council - Assembly and Conference - Banff, 23 - 25 May, 2012
The ISS International Council (members of ISS) assembles every two years. The last two ISS Council meetings were at Cape Town and Hong Kong. In May 2012, the International Council will meet at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, Canada. This will be the first ever assembly of the ISS International Council in the Americas. In conjunction with its regular meeting, this ISS event will include an Open Conference, inviting social service providers in the Americas to join their peers from around the world for a unique international experience. The Conference theme is: The Growing Wave - Global Human Migration. Its impact on planning, design and delivery of our social programs.
More information on Banff 2012
30 April 2012
Our Newsletter has arrived!
You are welcome to consult ISS Newsletter_April 2012
25 - 27 April 2012
Istanbul - Active participation of ISS in a seminar on adoption and children with disabilities
ISS participated actively to a seminar on adoption and children with disabilities, organised by the Council of Europe in Istanbul, from 25 to 27 April 2012. The event took place in the framework of the Programme on Confidence Building Measures Across the River Nistru/Dniestr and brought together Ombudspersons and other child protection professionals from Moldova and Transnistria, but also Serbia, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine and Greece, as well as international experts. ISS presented the International and European norms that govern adoption and its project "Helping Children with Disabilities find a family". Its participation and presentation raised a real interest among the participants.
10 April 2012
"Investigating the grey zones of intercountry adoptions" has just been published!
Based on data collected on multiple cases of illicit activities related to intercountry adoption (ICA) around the world over the last 50 years, the study aims to underline issues of concern surrounding an adoption procedure that are not necessarily and directly covered by The Hague Convention. Moreover, it thoroughly examines theoretical and technical obstacles that hinder the protection of children against trade in the context of ICA and goes on to formulate various recommendations in order to tackle these poor practices.
Investigating the grey zones of intercountry adoptions, Hervé Boéchat and Flavie Fuentes, 2012, 142 pages. Available in English, CHF 25.-
For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
9 March 2012
Cooperation Agreement between ISS and the Hague Conference on Private International Law
It gives us great pleasure to announce that ISS General Secretariat, on behalf of our network, has signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HccH). This Agreement recognizes more than 25 years of ongoing cooperation between ISS and HccH; it ascertains the will of both organizations to continued collaboration and it paves the way for concrete actions in the future.
11 February 2012
Search for origins and international legal framework - Conference in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
On the 11th of February 2012, ISS contributed actively to the conference "Search for origins: international legal framework" organized by the adoptive parents' association "Menoria", in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Three presentations were made; among them ISS presented the international legal framework of the search and the access to origins. Dr Jaime Ledesma del Busto, psychologist and family mediator specialized in the adoptees' search for origins and Mrs. Monica Castelao, from the Spanish Red Cross, the ISS Correspondent, gave a practical point of view on this very important topic.
2 February 2012
The Hague Special Commission - January 2012
ISS participated in The Hague Special Commission on the practical operation of the 1980 Convention on international child abduction and the 1996 Convention on international child protection. An important delegation composed of the General Secretariat and five Branches covered the entire meeting and took the floor when topics related to the ISS work were discussed.
ISS also seized the occasion to draft two documents on the necessity of a revision of the 1980 Convention on child abduction. These advocacy papers in support of a more effective protection of children involved in delicate situations of cross-border displacement are based on numerous situations of child abduction handled by ISS. The case studies developed by ISS shed light on the contradictions arising from the current application of the 1980 Convention and the limitations that the practical operation of the Convention is confronted with.