Vision and mission

ISS Vision

ISS strives to protect, defend, and support children, families, and individuals separated as a consequence of cross border migration.

ISS aims to ensure that respect for human rights is accorded to every individual, especially to children.

ISS Mission

ISS is an international federation of interconnected NGOs and partners that works towards re-establishing links within a family separated by borders. The ISS network strives to find solutions that enhance the protection of children in vulnerable situations. Our key priorities are to protect the best interest of the child above all other considerations and to provide socio-legal counsel and psychological support.

In the area of child protection and rights; advocacy, policy development, research, training and capacity building are among our main focus areas.     

ISS Working values

  • ISS promotes and protects the rights of children, families and individuals according to human rights conventions, including the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Inherent to this approach ISS is prioritising the best interests of the child by notably using a participative approach.
  • As ISS celebrates diversity, it continually strives for respecting and promoting the understanding and acceptance of all cultures worldwide.
  • The principles of neutrality, confidentiality, independence, transparency and impartiality are at the heart of ISS work.
  • ISS has a shared commitment to families, children and individuals that unites its global network.

Protecting children and uniting families across borders 

Our areas of concern

Forced migrations (child trafficking, conflicts, wars, asylum)

Voluntary migrations

International adoptions

Child abduction (inter-country divorce or separation)

Unaccompanied / orphan child(death, separation)


The services we provide

Intercountry social and legal assistance (applies to most situations)

Family tracing

Pre- and Post- adoption assistance

International family mediation

Child protection in family separation

Protection and care of unaccompanied minors

Alternative care / Foster care

Search of origins

Examples of projects from the ISS network (recent or ongoing)

South Africa: support of unaccompanied minors

ISS South Africa develops and disseminates guidelines and standards operating procedures to support unaccompanied minors coming from Zimbabwe and other neighboring countries through social workers to ensure the welfare of these children in South Africa.

International Family Mediation

ISS develops and conducts a series of projects to accompany and support the formalisation of international family mediation practice worldwide. This process was started by the European Union and The Hague Conference on International Private Law in the early 2000's.

All projects deal with information and awareness raising on mediation practice and strive to facilitate access to family mediators specialised in cross-border conflicts.

The publication, in 2014, of the first guide to international family mediation addressed to families, as well as professionals accompanying families, marks the kick-off of this global project.

West Africa : building a network

ISS Switzerland has built a network that promotes regional cooperation among children, families, NGOs, States and childcare professionals, so as to identify and prevent displacement of minors at risk, and to protect and reintegrate children in a family environment supported by an educational or professional project.

Hong-Kong: Migrant Programme

ISS Hong Kong (ISSHK) was established in 1958 and has 36 service areas in Hong Kong and 8 in Mainland China with about 400 staff. Their Migrant Programme is an implementing partner of the UNHCR since 37 years and offers unique services for refugees and asylum seekers. It strives to integrate refugee children in local schools and provide support to their families.

USA: assistance to unaccompanied minors

ISS USA provides an effective assistance to unaccompanied minors. Beside promoting the UN Guidelines for Alternative Care and Implementing Guidelines to all their interlocutors, media, government (both federal and state), the Branch also advocates with government officials (state and federal) about not only utilizing family based care as a short term solution, but working with the region to develop a social work approach to finding long term solutions for protecting children, and keeping children together with their families.