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Training of judges, prosecutors and Central Adoption Authority On 30 November to 1 December 2017, ISS provided training on the 1993 Hague Convention, principle of subsidiarity and UN Guidelines on the alternative care of children. This training was undertaken in collaboration with the HCCH, thanks to funding from the French Central Adoption Authority. Over 50 professionals were trained including judges, prosecutors, social workers and members of the Central Adoption Authority. A workshop with 100 professionals, Embassy staff and religious associations was likewise organised thanks to support from UNICEF, where the application of international standards were discussed and possible use of the 1996 Hague Convention for matters such as delegation of parental authority, kafalah and children on the move - with approximately 20 recommendations of how to move forward.
From 10-17 October 2017, several ISS representatives (GS, Germany, Switzerland and USA) participated in the 2017 Special Commission on the practical operation of the 1980 and 1996 HC. The latter was attended by Central authorities designated under both Conventions, Hague Network judges, diplomatic missions, NGOs, independent experts, etc. Following the 2015 ISS Conference on Cross-border child protection in Geneva, jointly organised with the HCCH, the Special Commission was the perfect occasion for ISS to showcase its latest initiatives and contribute with its expertise in discussions on important topics such as: international family mediation, recognition and enforcement of family agreements, relocation cases, custody and access rights, children on the move, kafala and return exceptions. For that purpose, casework and advocacy factsheets were prepared in English, French and Spanish on these topics and will be uploaded on the ISS and HCCH websites in due course.
ISS is looking forward to a continued cooperation with central authorities, the Permanent Bureau as well as other stakeholders to ensure the swift and holistic management of transnational child protection cases.
Preliminary findings have been shared at the IFCO meeting in Malta on 3 November 2017 after pilot testing in Malta and Romania. The instrument provides an approach to economic modelling to inform decision-making. Officially, "it enables consideration of the different types of costs of services and approaches that support children and families (particularly those in vulnerable situations) and links them to the expected outcomes of using these services". The final deliverables, expected to be published early 2018, will include among others, conceptual framework, methodology as well as toolkit on data gathering & analysis. As one of the steering group members for developing this initiative, ISS/IRC looks forward to encouraging other States to use Childonomics to invest in children. For further information, see Eurochild, as the organisation leading Childonomics.
As 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the International Reference Centre for the rights of children deprived of their family (ISS/IRC), the ISS/IRC celebrated on October 4th this event with its partners and collaborators, who have been providing their continuous and invaluable support since its foundation in 1997. During a one day conference, selected themes in alternative care, adoption and surrogacy were debated to reflect on the achievements of the last decades and exchange on future challenges in these fields. This symposium was followed by an evening of festivities. The ISS/IRC would like to reiterate its gratitude to the numerous participants (from Central adoption authorities, international experts, members of the ISS network, etc.) and to the supporters who were unfortunately not able to attend the event.
After years of developing, fine-tuning and testing, the Tracking Progress initiative was officially launched at the IFCO meeting in Malta on 3 November 2017. Concretely "this tool was developed to support those working on strengthening the care system for children at the country level to measure progress in the implementation of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. The tool enables you to take stock of progress and identify challenges in the implementation of the Guidelines." Led by Better Care Network and Save the Children, the ISS/IRC with multiple other steering group members worked together to ensure its accessibility – through for example, surveys, website design and network dissemination. For further information: Tracking progress initiative
On the 29th of September, ISS, represented by Juliette Duchesne & Jeannette Wöllenstein, was invited to the 2017 Nordic Adoption Council in Helsinki. The conference's topic was the "Current Phenomena in Adoptions» and was attended by Nordic Central Adoption Authorities, Adoption Accredited Bodies as well as International Organizations working in this field. At this occasion, ISS gave a presentation illustrating the benefits and risks linked to the use of new technologies, including social media, in a search for origins' process. The main focus was on how to transform possible dangers into constructive outcomes for all involved parties. This opportunity has highlighted, among others, the need for professional's capacity building, professional support for the adoption triangle in a search process and financial support from states authorities for post-adoption services.
Geneva 30-31 October 2017: ISS' core group continues work to develop principles on surrogacy Following from the ISS' expert group meeting in Verona in May 2017, the core group met to refine the principles to protect the rights of children in surrogacy arrangements. The core group includes Claire Achmad, Nigel Cantwell, Patricia Fronek, David Smolin, Katarina Trimmings, Michael Wells-Greco and the ISS team. Messages were reinforced on the need to preserve human dignity, prevent the sale of children, right to identity (name, nationality and family relations), access to information about origins, when surrogacy arrangements are not completed as well as the importance of respecting the rights of the surrogate mother and intending parents. The wider expert group will continue to provide input into the 16 principles at a meeting hosted by the University of Zurich on the 31 Jan to 2 Feb 2018.
Mandated by the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and UNICEF Morocco, ISS presented its observations and recommendations on 25-26th of September in Rabat, following an evaluation mission in May. The aim of the mission was to analyse 15 years of the implementation of kafala laws – both at a national and intercountry level – with findings consolidated in a 70 page report. Several presentations were held targeting specifically prevention of family separations and family support, a national kafala procedure in line with international standards, international kafala placements and the principle of subsidiarity. Further, participative exercises focused on the roles and responsibilities of competent entities. This restitution workshop was attended by approximatively 30 representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Development, the Central authority designated under the 1996 Hague Convention, diplomatic missions, civil society organisations and UNICEF. ISS hopes to work with actors to identify which recommendations are relevant and feasible, to help with the moving the reform process forward.
ISS/IRC went to Benin where it delivered training to the recently established Central Adoption Authority, through the intervention of Alphonsine Sawadogo, Expert in child protection and adoption and Cécile Jeannin, ISS/IRC Coordinator "Research and Publication Unit". Fourteen participants, advisers and members of the technical Secretariat of the Central Authority, benefited from the multiple presentations and workshops that provided a panorama of intercountry standards and procedures applicable in matters related to the protection of children deprived of their family, or at risk of being so, adopted, or in need to be adopted.
Benin is in the final phase of ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention and is currently developing procedures and tools for its eventual implementation. The ISS/IRC is honoured to support Benin in the strengthening of its child protection and adoption system in order to ensure the adequate application of the principles of necessity and subsidiarity.
As a follow up on the May 2017 professional meeting, organised by ISS and that gathered 27 mediation experts from 18 countries and all continents, ISS accepted the mandate to coordinate the creation of a Global Network of International Family Mediators.
Recently and as requested by its mandate, ISS General Secretariat appointed an Interim Steering Committee for a period of 12 months out of a list of professionals who volunteered for that purpose. The objective is to elaborate Terms of References and admission criteria for the future network.
Naturally, the GS is fully engaged in this project which, it believes, is the fruit of 7 years of extensive investment in human and financial capital in a pioneering and complex field, the international family mediation.
The future network will represent an important body of knowledge and support for ISS Casework activities world-wide.
In perfect match with the ISS overall mission and vision, the network's aim is to prevent, support, and protect children from harm related to cross-border family disputes and child abduction situations, promoting any existing expertise, training offer and regional/transregional network for the advancement of this endeavour.
For more information please visit: http://www.iss-ssi.org/index.php/en/what-we-do-en/mediation-en and do not miss watching the short video clip of the May 2017 Geneva Meeting here: