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At the invitation of the Cambodian Government, ISS provided technical assistance on a human rights based approach related to surrogacy as the country considers reforms. ISS was represented by Juliette Duchesne, Patricia Fronek and John Pascoe who engaged in dialogue on subjects such as the sale of children, access to origins, nationality, evaluation, preparation and support of surrogate mothers as well intending parents. This work occurred in the context of ISS' expert group currently drafting international principles on this matter.
ISS has submitted two factsheets with information about the situation of children in alternative care and adoption to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to Bulgaria and the Russian Federation, as the latter will be examined by the Committee this week. These focus on the implementation of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children and adoption-related international standards in both countries, with a particular focus on the rights of children with disabilities. Finally, these submissions are a true reflection of ISS 's advocacy work and partnership with international treaty bodies. The factsheets will soon be available at:
The International Social Service (ISS) together with a group of experts (the Experts' Group) met from 18 to 20 May 2017 at the Department of Law, University of Verona, Italy to discuss the urgent need for national and international child focused responses to surrogacy arrangements.
This first meeting of the Experts' Group was attended by 30 experts and observers from governments, academic institutions, civil society as well as international organisations including among others the Council of Europe, the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, UN Special Rapporteur sale and sexual exploitation of children and UNICEF. The Experts' Group represented various regions, including States and non-governmental organisations which have different approaches to national and international surrogacy arrangements.
The Experts' Group acknowledged the disparate national approaches to surrogacy and the concerns relating to surrogacy arrangements including, for example, the potential for exploitation of children, women and intending parents. The Experts' Group agreed in particular that the rights of all children, irrespective of the circumstances of their birth, must be protected. The Experts' Group also agreed in principle that States must prohibit the sale of children in the context of surrogacy with particular reference to the Optional Protocol on Sale of Children.
ISS and the Experts' Group agreed that there is an urgent need for comprehensive universal principles which consider surrogacy from an international and child centred approach, and grounded in international human rights laws and standards with particular reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The purpose of this meeting was therefore to review a working document proposing "Principles for better protection of children's rights in the context of surrogacy". These principles would, first and foremost, support inter-governmental and national efforts in providing a comprehensive international children's rights response to surrogacy. Significant steps are now beginning to be made in that direction.
This is the first of a number of consultations that ISS and the Experts' Group intend to convene. ISS and its core group* will continue to work in close collaboration with inter-governmental organisations, States and other relevant stakeholders, in order to secure their input on specific issues where improved clarity, information and action are most urgently needed.
ISS wishes to thank Professor Maria Caterina Baruffi and the University of Verona for hosting this first meeting of the Experts' Group. A second meeting will be convened in Zurich, Switzerland in early 2018.
* Claire Achmad, Christina Baglietto, Nigel Cantwell, Mia Dambach, Patricia Fronek, David Smolin, Katarina Trimmings and Michael Wells-Greco
In March 2016, ISS/IRC published the Responding to illegal adoptions: a professional handbook. In light of the large demand for translation, this publication has been translated into French and Spanish. The three versions in English, French and Spanish can be freely downloaded on the ISS/IRC website. As a reminder, this handbook is structured around four main Chapters, each focusing on the potential responses available to a finding of an illegal adoption from a specific standpoint: legal, psychosocial, social and political. Personal testimonies and case studies are woven into the Chapters, highlighting the harsh reality, challenges and achievements of those most affected.
The ISS Professional Advisory Committee annual meeting was successfully hosted in Athens by ISS Member in Greece, a founding member in 1924.
Directors from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, USA, United Kingdom, West Africa Network as well as the Secretary General and the Network development coordinator from the ISS General Secretariat discussed, over 2 and half days a full agenda of ISS issues. Among them, the participants covered current projects such as Children on the Move, Children with Disabilities, International Family Mediation.
The meeting considered reports from various bodies of the network and discussed as well general strategy, policy and advocacy matters related to network development, membership and contributions. The last (half) day of the meeting was dedicated to a side meeting of ISS European members, the contributions committee as well as the first meeting of working group on ISS regionalization.
A special reception for ISS was hosted by the mayor of Athens to express thanks and appreciation to ISS work in Greece and world-wide. After each day’s extensive discussion sessions, a social agenda gathered all participants along the warmth of Greek hospitality and good food.
Several ISS members (ISS Canada, ISS General Secretariat, ISS Germany and ISS Switzerland) participated in the Global Conference on Children on the Move that took place in Berlin on 12th and 13th of June 2017. This event, which was attended by over 300 representatives of governments, UN agencies, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector from all over the world, was part of the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts (www.childrenonthemove.org).
The conference was intended to create momentum and provide a platform to discuss and advocate for a strong global strategy on protecting the rights of children on the move, in preparation for the Global Compacts in 2018, but also beyond these major events.
At this occasion, ISS launched its international manual Children on the move: From protection towards a quality sustainable solution, which is now accessible in English HERE
May 2017: An ISS expert group headed to the Kingdom of Morocco last week for an evaluation mission, mandated by the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and joined by UNICEF Morocco.
During this mission, the ISS team met with over 100 key players (governmental, civil society, families and their children) working in child protection, and to discuss with them more precisely about Kafala.
This mission aimed to establish a full picture of 15 years of implementation of the legal framework dedicated to kafala for children deprived of family, whether in Morocco or abroad, as well as identifying the benefits and challenges impacts in the practice.
Several preliminary recommendations have already been shared with a technical panel during a participative workshop on 9 May 2017. On this basis, the ISS experts are preparing a comprehensive report to be finalised over summer.
On 13th of June 2017, Mr Vito Bumbaca represented ISS at the World Vision campaign "it takes a World to end violence against children" launched together with the Permanent Missions of Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, European Union, Global Partnership to end violence against children, the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Plan International and UNICEF.
Several UN bodies and NGOs attended this event together with ISS, such as UNOG, WHO, UNHCR, Child Rights Connect and SOS Children's Villages International.
ISS General Secretariat, congratulated World Vision and its partners for the great work done, encouraged the initiative and expressed interest for future collaborations.
ISS is always interested in cooperation mechanisms with all partners involved in child protection.
With its observer status granted in 2014, ISS has submitted its activity report outlining its work in the African region via its members, general secretariat and with regional partners. The report shows the breadth of the network's expertise in terms of casework management, technical assistance via law reform, training and evaluation missions.
In addition to this work, special projects such as "A better future is possible" with regards to children with disabilities living in residential care facilities, and the West Africa Network project working with children on the move, likewise showcase the network's know how with those living in particularly vulnerable situations. The ISS network looks forward to continued collaboration with ACERWC to help better protect African children. The report is available in English and French.
Following from the resolution at the International Council in Melbourne, 2016, the ISS network has worked together to capture the essence of ISS casework and advocacy influence for children on the move in this practical guide for all professionals working with COM.
The richness of this manual is that it is based on nearly 100 years of daily casework of ISS members and specific projects targeting this group of children in all regions of the world – from the initial contact with the child to the working towards a quality sustainable solution. The manual will also be significant in helping advocacy efforts to ensure that the child's rights are protected at each stage of the process – encouraging implementation of international standards as well as the upcoming Joint General Comment as well as work on Child Rights in the Global Compacts.
ISS is pleased to share the recent statement carried out by Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, the Mauritian Child Protection Minister on the importance of family based care.
"The place of a child is not in a shelter* but in a family". Recently, she has set up a committee aiming at creating a special cell to review the situation of the children living in the 20 shelters in Mauritius. This initiative is in line with the ISS recommendations delivered to the Mauritian government in the framework of its project "A better future is possible" for children with special needs separated from their families.
(*residential care institutions for children)