IOM Director General William Lacey Swing presenting at the opening plenary of the High Level Summit (HLS) of the UN General Assembly.

The IDC attended the High Level Summit (HLS) of the UN General Assembly to address large movements of refugees and migrants in New York on September 19.

At the summit all 193 United Nations (UN) Member States unanimously adopted a set of political commitments – called the “New York Declaration” – including a commitment to work to end the immigration detention of children.
Alongside the Summit, the IDC supported a meeting with States, UN and civil society in a high level roundtable exploring the development of a multi-stakeholder initiative to end child detention.

Despite this significant commitment, the final language of the NY Declaration backslides on a number of existing rights and standards, referring to the detention of children as a “last resort” yet failing to clarify that detention that is based on the immigration status of a child or their parents/guardians that detention is always a child rights violation, and is never in a child’s best interest.

It is a reminder that our role as civil society is to remain vigilant on this issue, to pursue the fundamental rights for those who are vulnerable and voiceless in our society.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, highlighted the appalling conditions in which women & children are detained during his opening address, encouraging an urgent response. Watch his speech here.



This was a sentiment echoed in the High Commissioner’s open letter on protecting the human rights of migrants and refugees in large movements, which called for the use of alternatives to immigration detention, especially for children.

Some States showed support for further development of alternatives to immigration detention, including Portugal who stated, “we don’t support detention centres, we prefer to integrate asylum seekers into the community “.

The IDC was also one of the 100 + civil society organisations who supported the Act Now statement and scorecard which evaluates a number of the commitments in the NY Declaration. Ending child detention is one of the 7 actions recommended in this statement.