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Getting Care Right for All Children: Implementing the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
On 10 and 11 March, experts Clare Achmed, Nigel Cantwell, Patricia Fronek, David Smolin, Katarina Trimmings, Michael Wells –Greco and the ISS team moved forward with drafting seven principles to better protect children in international surrogacy arrangements (ISAs) – hosted at the law firm Charles Russel Speechley. The principles included best interests of the child, parentage, financial transactions, child as an independant rights holder, consent of the surrogate mother and principle of non discrimination. This preparatory work will be discussed by a wider group of experts/observers including government representatives in an effort to advocate for appropriate regulation of ISAs based on international standards.
The General Secretariat, represented ISS in the Annual Meeting of The Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action in Geneva.
The Alliance is a global interagency group focused on child protection in humanitarian settings and is is mandated to ensure the timeliness, quality and coverage of coordinated child protection responses in humanitarian settings. They set standards and provide technical support to ensure that efforts to protect children from violence and exploitation are of high quality and effective. The Annual Meeting was a platform to discuss the challenges and constraints faced by the child protections workers.
General Secretariat’s colleagues Paola Suarez and Jacqueline Guillot reported that the conference was also key to meet child protection practitioners, humanitarian actors from other sectors, academics and policy makers and initiate new partnership opportunities for ISS network.
Further to current issues being raised by the adoption of children by superstars, ISS wishes to recall the basic ethical and international standards which should safeguard the rights of the adopted child. ISS would like to ensure that all adoptions are "super" for the child. Superstars are in a unique position to reflect (or not) ethical practices, leading by example. This advocacy note has been prepared to encourage truly super superstar adoptions.
People in New Zealand were awoken by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake at midnight on Sunday. The full force of the quake was felt in a place called Kaikoura - on the eastern side of the South Island - just north of Christchurch (where the catastrophic quakes occurred a few years ago) and south of Wellington (our Capital city). Whilst thankfully the loss of life from this event has been limited to two people, the extent of damage to infrastructure is enormous with roads in and out of Kaikoura cut off by numerous slips, houses ruined, water and power cut off etc. We are very fortunate to have a Government that is well organised when it comes to responding to events like this and the response has been immediate.
Down town Wellington (the Capital city) was also significantly impacted. Many government departments remain closed today while buildings are checked.
To add to things for people, we are on the receiving end of dreadful weather today - torrential rain and gale force winds. This is adding to the issues people are dealing with as there's flooding to contend with on top of the rattled nerves as a result of ongoing and significant aftershocks.
Despite all this I'm pleased to say that ISS New Zealand is back on deck today.
After the recent launch of a website dedicated to International Family Mediation (www.ifm-mfi.org), we are proud to announce the publication of an international document of reference The Charter for International Family Mediation Processes. At the initiative of ISS, this Charter was drafted by a group of 55 mediators from all continents, including all recognised IFM structures.
The next step of our IFM project will be to create an interactive tool for the promotion of Good Practices worldwide. A reflection, with the same group, on an international accreditation procedure for specialised mediators will follow suit as well.
We greatly thank all ISS members who appointed representatives to our endeavours in the field of IFM.
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ISS General Secretariat was invited to the 2016 RELAF Seminar on Deinstitutionalization and Prevention of Separation in Panama City. Jeannette Wöllenstein, Children's Rights Officer, presented the forthcoming Massive Open Online Course on Alternative Care as an inter-agency effort to train professionals, thinking out of the box and ensuring a global impact. More than 90 professionals representing government authorities, NGOs and other international organisations came together to discuss the current situation of children in alternative care in the Latin-American region, the state of play of the implementation of the UN Guidelines and to share regional and national experiences on deinstitutionalization, prevention processes as well as foster care programs. Moreover, this seminar gave ISS the opportunity to meet with potential partners to strengthen the network in the region.
ISS was invited to participate at the ninth annual High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges last week in Geneva. This year's theme, Children on the Move, recognized the growing plight of young people who are fleeing violence and war, and struggling to reach safety. 50 million children are on the move! Against this worrying backdrop, this year's Dialogue brought together refugee youth representatives, States, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and other humanitarian and academic partners to consider the distinct protection risks children face while on the move.
ISS will continue to collaborate and focus on defining quality durable solutions and underlying the need of individual psycho-social and legal support as well as capacity building of social workers and other professionals.
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A needs assessment mission is underway in Cambodia led by an ISS team of experts supported by UNICEF Cambodia. During this first field mission, an ISS team (General Secretariat and ISS Australia) will meet several potential partners from child protection and disability agencies including state authorities. A full report with a plan of action and recommendations will follow suit aiming at consolidating existing systems and advocating for alternative care opportunities for children with disabilities.
The International NGO Day on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was attended by more than 250 civil society, NGOs and UN worldwide representatives. Vito Bumbaca from the ISS General Secretariat focused his intervention on the added value of cross border social services for individuals in need. In addition, training of concerned professionals is paramount to strengthen "the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels." (SDG 16).
This meeting was also an opportunity to give an overview on ISS current initiatives, partnerships and support to child protection competent authorities through its global network.
ISS Marie Jenny is on the stand presenting ISS flagship global project "A better future is possible", a life project for children with disabilities living in an institution, promoting the right of those children to leave the institution and grow up in a family environment.