10 years ago, the International Detention Coalition (IDC) was incorporated, becoming an entity after years of being an active email group which connected advocates working towards a common goal: reducing harmful immigration detention. As the first Director of the IDC moves on to another role, we take an opportunity to reflect on the first decade of the IDC. 

It began with a member survey…

IDC Developed a Core Position…

And began to work around the world

Developed a Framework for Change

Launched the First Handbook to Prevent Immigration Detention

Complimented existing national advocacy strategies

“I always really enjoy our delegation efforts! It’s great an organisation like the IDC exists to take the lead on this, so we can contribute together to some progress globally on the issue of detention!”

Pieter Stockmans, Flemish Refugee Action.

“Our collaboration with IDC has been ongoing, resulting in long-term strategies that are specific to the Japan context, and have resulted in the signing of an MOU with the Japan Government, a pilot “Alternatives to Detention” scheme that has secured release for several asylum-seekers, and a pilot airport reception scheme…”

Brian Barbour, Director of Protection and Assistance, Japan Association for Refugees

Launched the Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children

Clarified the UN CRC Position: Immigration Detention Violates Child Rights

After a moving campaign side event, featuring 6 youths who had been in detention, the CRC provided an expert clarification.


The detention of a child because of their or their parent’s migration status constitutes a child rights violation and always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child. In this light, States should expeditiously and completely cease the detention of children on the basis of their immigration status. Source Para 78. 79

Collaborated with UN agencies

We collaborated with UNHCR on two Global Roundtables on Alternatives to Immigration Detention.

In 2015, the IDC signed a 5 year MOU with UNHCR, who released their Beyond Detention Strategy, which has the same strategic goals as the IDC, as sees detention focal points placed in target country chapters for UNHCR.

The IDC coordinated, and has been nominated to chair the Inter-Agency Working Group to End Immigration Detention of Children,  comprised of twenty-nine prominent UN groups, inter-governmental organizations, and civil society Representatives who collectively represent stakeholders in every country of the world.

“Immigration detention must remain a key area of scrutiny and focus for our collective efforts with States’ continued use of detention for vulnerable asylum seeker and refugee men, women and children. UNHCR greatly appreciates the efforts of IDC and we value our strong partnership and ongoing collaboration…”

Volker Türk, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Strengthened Normative Standards on Immigration Detention

The CRC General Comment on the human rights of children in situations of international migration in September 2017 provided authoritative guidance that immigration detention is a violation of child rights.

The New York Declaration committed States to work towards ending immigration detention of children.

The International Detention Coalition has been extremely useful in helping us to learn more about how alternative measures can reduce the costs to the State of dealing with migrant children. The IDC works not only in Europe, but globally – it has done studies in the United States, Canada and Australia – and it has found that the introduction of community placement models can reduce the costs to the State from 60% to 90%. When we have to push our governments for action, they often want to know about the human rights perspective, but, as we all know, they also always ask the money question. I have emphasised this aspect of the research so that in making our arguments to our own government or to others for ending the detention of children we can present the case for cost-effectiveness…..”

Ms Tinatin Bokuchava, Council of Europe Rapporteur

Created Tools for Change

The Alternatives to Detention Toolkit allows you to search by advanced criteria to sourced information on alternatives worldwide.

The IDC Online Toolkit provides insight from practitioners about what makes alternatives work, via free, online training.

Learn about alternatives, anywhere, anytime.

IDC’s Research There Are Alternatives was updated, incorporating the learnings from the ongoing program of research and the revised Community Assessment and Placement Model.

IDC also released an online map, with over 250 examples of alternatives to detention.

The Vulnerability Screening Tool  is a UNHCR and IDC collaboration intended to help guide and inform frontline workers and decision-makers on the relevance of vulnerability factors to detention decisions.

Continued to support the development of alternatives to detention in national contexts

“To me it is of great value to work with the IDC as a practitioner. Highlighting an important question from a holistic point of view including the view of government officials and NGOs creates opportunities to get new perspectives…”

Niclas Axelsson, Specialist in Detention at the Swedish Migration Board

‘Let me say now how much we, at the APT, have appreciated working with you and the IDC team. You’ve done an amazing job on an issue that was neglected by many. Congratulations on challenging and changing policies and attitudes towards immigration detention across the world’

Mark Thomson
Secretary General Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)

Developed Targeted Networks to Share Learnings Between Alternatives to Detention Practitioners

The “European Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Network” links civil society organisations developing case management-based pilot projects in five European countries.

In Mexico we held the first Global Implementers Workshop which saw 20 civil society actors and partners actively developing and implementing alternatives attend, and continue to share insights and learnings.

Networks continue to be fostered in the five regions that the IDC works in: Asia Pacific, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Middle East North Africa (MENA).

Impacted on laws, policy and practice for people in immigration detention.