Members of Congress and Civil Society Visit Chiapas, Mexico

The State of Chiapas is located in the south-eastern part of Mexico and shares a border with Guatemala. Tapachula is one of the 118 municipalities in the State, and is mainly subject to transitory migration, although is also a temporary and permanent destination for those seeking better opportunities and to safeguard their lives.

The city of Tapachula was chosen by the Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos del Sureste Mexicano (Human Rights Observation and Monitoring Collective in Southeast Mexico), the Grupo de Acción para la No Detención de Personas Refugiadas (Advocacy Task Force to End Detention of Refugees), and the Migration Policy Working Group, to host members of the Mexican Congress in order to highlight the rights of migrants and people seeking asylum. This was addressed considering the following four issues:

  1. the militarisation of borders and migrant controls
  2. unrestricted access to human rights
  3. the situation of children, and
  4. detention due to migration status

Three days of meetings with government actors, United Nations agencies, academia and civil society, as well as visits to detention centres (detention centres or provisional centres), shelters, and government agencies, confirmed the need for the Mexican government to undertake legislative reforms on a federal and state level to ensure an inclusive policy of migration and asylum that includes respect for human rights

Some of the main concerns highlighted by the visit included:

  1. The vulnerability of migrants and asylum seekers, particularly, children, women, and members of the LGBTQI+ community
  2. The impact of militarisation and the presence of the National Guard in migration control
  3. The absence of institutions responsible for guaranteeing rights in migrant control and verification spaces, such as the Attorney for Protection of Children, and the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance
  4. The limited availability of information and obstacles to accessing migration regularisation processes and the recognition of refugee status

The situation in detention centres continues to be of great concern as living conditions of migrants and people seeking asylum have deteriorated due to the lack of dignified conditions, the absence of information, and in particular, the isolation and lack of expedited responses to applications. Furthermore, the difficulties faced by civil society organisations in accompanying and monitoring detention centres was also evident. 

Members of Congress have undertaken to consider the following issues in the next legislative session:

  • Harmonise legislation under the strictest standards of human rights protection.
  • Eliminate the faculties of the National Guard in matters of migrant control and surveillance.
  • Guarantee that applicants for international protection are not detained while waiting for a resolution by the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance. 
  • Expand the budget for the child protection system to guarantee the evaluation and determination of the best interests of the child, as well as the development of plans for the restitution of individual rights, under the highest standards of protection. 
  • Strengthen the response capacity of entities such as health, work, education, justice, and civil registry, amongst others, to include the migrant and asylum seeker populations in actions proposed by state and municipal governments. 
  • Establish efficient mechanisms of inter-institutional and transnational collaboration and referral between authorities, United Nations agencies, and civil society on a regional level. 
  • Promote and/or strengthen parliamentary controls that provide members of Congress with information on compliance with legal frameworks passed by Congress, particularly regarding migrant children. 

A similar visit will be conducted in September 2022 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, with four points of reflection and observation:

Mexico-United States binational policy

National and Public Security versus Human Security

Migrant children and asylum seekers


The Migration Policy Working Group believes that, on both a federal and state level, the Mexican Congress should modify legal frameworks to guarantee measures that ensure such human rights violations are not repeated. This is crucial given the recent events that occurred in the States of Chiapas and Texas, where migrants, seeking alternatives to avoid migration enforcement, were faced with death and desolation.

Written by IDC Partner Melissa Vertiz of the Migration Policy Working Group in Mexico, of which IDC is also a member

5 Years of the European ATD Network: Growing & Learning Together

In April 2022, members of the European ATD Network met for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Five years after the Network’s creation, its goal – to reduce and end immigration detention by building evidence and momentum on engagement-based alternatives – is more relevant now than ever before. Hannah Cooper, IDC’s Europe Regional Coordinator, reflects on some of the key takeaways from the meeting.

Recent years have shown increased momentum around alternatives to detention (ATD) in Europe, with a number of countries introducing legislative changes that have codified – and, in some cases, expanded – their use. Promising practice has taken the form of improved screening and assessment procedures, enhanced safeguards for people in vulnerable situations, introduction of legislation and policy that prohibits detention of certain groups, and the piloting of innovative ATD approaches (see IDC’s latest report released in May, Gaining Ground, for more promising practice in Europe and beyond).

Yet despite some steps forward, the need for effective, rights-based ATD remains great. Detention continues to be a key part of Europe’s toolbox when it comes to migration management and the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum is likely to result in increased use of detention – including arbitrary detention – due to its focus on border procedures and the push to increase and accelerate returns. While EU law states that detention should only be used as a measure of last resort and in very specific circumstances defined by law, detention is frequently applied as a default. Even where alternatives are used they tend to focus on enforcement-based approaches, which apply restrictions and conditions to control and track migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum. Such measures allow governments to monitor individuals and apply sanctions for non-compliance, but fail to support people in working towards resolution of their case. The conditions of such enforcement-based ATD are often unrealistic and put overly harsh burdens on migrants regarding reporting and bail conditions. In contrast, ATD based on engagement and case management in the community are more humane, collaborative, and effective in supporting people to work towards finding a temporary or permanent migration outcome, which can include regularisation, moving to a third country, or voluntary return.

It was with this in mind that the European Alternatives to Detention (ATD) Network came together in late April for our tenth meeting. Due to the pandemic, this was the first time that network members had met in person in over two years. The meeting’s overall purpose was therefore to provide network members from across Europe with the opportunity to gather after this long hiatus, review our progress to date, develop a joint understanding of the current context, exchange on priority areas and challenges, and develop a collective roadmap for the coming phase.

Working together to implement and advocate for rights-based ATD

Since 2017, the European Alternatives to Detention Network has been working to bring together organisations implementing case management-based ATD across Europe. The Network has grown from its initial four pilot projects, and now includes eight organisations in seven countries across Europe. Five years on, the goal of the Network – to reduce and end immigration detention by building evidence and momentum on engagement-based alternatives – is more relevant than ever.

The meeting in April provided Network members with a space to reflect, troubleshoot, and problem solve together. Our approach is constantly evolving – there are always new things to learn, and ways in which we can improve our delivery of rights-based ATD, based on the principles of holistic case management in the community. Given this, below are some reflections on the key takeaways from the meeting:

Learning together is key to growing together.

When the Network was formed in 2017, there were very few examples of case management based ATD happening. Detention Action’s Community Support Project (CSP), which works with young migrant ex-offenders who have experienced or are at risk of long-term immigration detention, was used as inspiration for other members, who initially had little experience in case management. The CSP was designed in line with the principles of IDC’s Community Assessment and Placement model, a holistic framework for case management that is drawn from social work principles. Today, through learning and working together, Network members are leading best practices on the provision of holistic case management, including when it comes to ATD.

Change happens, but slowly.

One of the network’s key priorities since its inception has been to influence ATD policy and practice across Europe. Network members are in a particularly strategic position to do this; their pilots work with groups experiencing some of the most severe vulnerabilities, and their ability to speak with policymakers from this on-the-ground perspective – combined with a solutions-focused approach – is one of the network’s unique  strengths. Thanks in part to the advocacy of Network members, we have seen concrete impact – including the establishment of a specific role focusing on ATD and the adoption of the Screening and Vulnerability tools in Cyprus, and a partnership set up between the UK Home Office and non-governmental actors to test ATD approaches. However, change is slow and rarely linear. The Network is also only one part of a large ecosystem of change; as one participant put it, “we need to stop thinking we can change the world alone.”

Our work must always centre around lived experience leadership.

One of the central themes of this year’s Network meeting was how to ensure meaningful and responsible participation of leaders with lived experience of detention – not just as ‘users’ of services but also in leading the co-design and implementation of our pilots and projects. For all Network members, this is a current priority – and we discussed how resources can be put in place to ensure that leaders with lived experience are equal partners in the development of rights-based ATD, and can be supported to participate. The newest Network member, Mosaico, was established with this commitment in mind and their refugee-led approach has meant that migrants and refugees  involved in the project are themselves active participants in its design and conception. Moving forward, the Network will be looking to further explore how we can promote lived experience leadership, in line with our two-year scaling plan.

We can see the impact of our projects, but we must do better at showing it to others.

Every day, Network members see the impact of their work. Whether this be ensuring that somebody is released from detention into a community-based pilot, or helping them to access the legal assistance that they were not able to obtain in detention - our projects have a concrete and visible positive impact on the lives of those at risk of immigration detention. We know, moreover, that ATD are better for people’s health and more cost effective than immigration detention, as well as being a far more effective and dignified way to support people to work towards resolution of their migration cases. And the evaluations from our projects (see here and here) present some of the strongest evidence for the success of ATD – with implications not just in Europe, but also for developing and enhancing ATD globally. Yet Network members agree that we must do better at showing the success of our projects as a whole, particularly to governments and policymakers but also to civil society allies, in order to provide concrete evidence that demonstrates the impact of effective, rights-based ATD.

Going forward, the Network will continue to evolve and adjust our approach in order to learn and grow together – finding ways to effect change, show impact, and shift power to those with lived experience. And by doing this, we hope that we will bring the Network one step closer to achieving our goal to reduce and ultimately end detention in Europe, allowing people on the move to live with freedom, rights, and dignity.

IDC Asia Pacific Programme Spring Event Round-Up

In May, during the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) IDC was excited to see Thailand’s global leadership, and welcomed Thailand’s pledge to improve the lives of people who migrate. Alongside progressing birth registration for migrant children and universal health coverage, Thailand pledged to effectively implement ATD for migrant children and work towards ending child immigration detention. Thailand also pledged to engage the public towards ending discrimination and stigmatisation of migrant communities. IDC will continue to work in collaboration with Thailand to achieve these pledges.

Further in May, IDC’s Asia Pacific Programme Officer, Min Jee Yamada Park, presented at the ASEAN Workshop on Women and Children in the Context of Migration, and discussed key findings from IDC's latest research report which maps the use of immigration detention and alternatives to immigration detention (ATD) in 19 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. You can find the new report here.

Mic Chawaratt, IDC’s Southeast Asia Programme Manager also took the stage at the ASEAN Workshop on Women & Children in the Context of Migration to reflect on the IMRF and the momentum it sparked for migration issues at regional and national levels. Mic highlighted that ending child detention was a key priority issue that could help GCM vision become a reality, and that the ASEAN Declaration of the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration and its Regional Plan of Action reinforce the GCM agenda. Mic urged ASEAN Member States to use ATD as a vehicle to end child detention in the region and further suggested how ASEAN governments and stakeholders can engage ASEAN mechanisms as well as the GCM to fulfil the rights of migrant children.

Lastly, Mic also represented IDC at a panel on 'Human Rights, Assistance and Protection in the context of International Migration,' which was co-organised by IOM Thailand, OHCHR Asia-Pacific Office, Thailand’s Immigration Bureau, the Canadian Embassy to Thailand, and the US Embassy to Thailand. Mic highlighted lessons from the implementation of the ATD-MOU and community-based case management in Thailand, and shared recommendations for the Thai government to strengthen laws, policies and processes to end immigration detention of children and their families. You can find the new report here.

IDC also proudly signed the joint statement coordinated by the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) on World Refugee Day: Civil Society Calls for Urgent Measures to Protect Uyghurs at Risk of Refoulement.

Strengthening Partnerships to Implement Effective ATD in Thailand

On 9 June 2022, the Department of Children and Youth (DCY) of the Government of Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding with HOST International Thailand Foundation (HOST) to establish a formal partnership and collaboration to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on the Determination of Measures and Approaches Alternative to Detention of Children in Immigration Detention Centres (MOU-ATD), signed by the Thai government in 2019

Over the past few years, DCY and HOST, as well as IDC and other civil society stakeholders, worked in collaboration to leverage Thailand’s commitment to end the immigration detention of children. This involved collaborating to reduce the number of children in immigration detention, while promoting the use of community-based Case Management and alternatives to detention (ATD) for children and their families. The DCY and HOST partnership MOU signed in June this year stipulates clear and coordinated objectives for both parties to implement the MOU-ATD in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC) and the Regional Plan of Action on Implementing the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration. The partnership MOU also includes coordination on activities to strengthen the capacity of child protection officers and the child protection system to effectively protect children and their families in the context of Migration. As part of this initiative, HOST will serve a critical role as an equal partner with DCY, and will assign staff to coordinate with DCY to provide assistance to children and their families released from immigration detention, as well as coordinate with Government agencies, international organisations and civil society to ensure holistic support services. HOST can also advise DCY on child protection issues, and regularly organise training on child protection for DCY staff and other key stakeholders. 

This partnership MOU is the first of its kind, and is the result of collective efforts by the Thai government and Thai civil society to advance a whole-of-society approach towards ensuring the best interests of the child in Thailand. 

IDC is a key partner of  DCY and HOST in implementing the MOU-ATD in Thailand. Most recently, IDC and HOST worked together on a joint project to strengthen community-based ATD throughout 2021-2022. IDC would like to congratulate both parties on this new partnership MOU, which represents a great outcome of positive and effective government and civil society collaboration. IDC believes that moving forward this partnership MOU will serve as a key tool for Thailand to achieve its pledge stated at the International Migration Review Forum in May 2022 - that Thailand will effectively implement ATD measures for children in the context of migration, as well as commit to end child immigration detention.



Written by Mic Chawaratt IDC Southeast Asia Programme Manager

Updates from IDC’s MENA Regional Programme

للغة العربية ، اضغط هنا

In March 2022, IDC conducted a joint online training with UNICEF on child immigration detention issues in the MENA region, including challenges and possibilities for ending it. This was the first in a series of trainings aimed to support civil society and community organisations in the region.

IDC will be coordinating more capacity building opportunities on related topics; please stay tuned and follow our Facebook and Twitter to be the first to register!

Research and awareness raising on immigration detention

This year, IDC has been working intensively with UNICEF and also supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation funding  on research to map practices and legislation related to child immigration detention in 11 countries across the MENA region. Through this process, we have identified promising practices towards ending child immigration detention and providing alternatives to detention (ATD), and will be publishing this in a report. Some of the promising practices in the MENA region are already featured in IDC’s latest global report, available here: Gaining Ground: Promising Practice to Reduce & End Immigration Detention

In June 2022, IDC’s MENA Regional Programme began a social media campaign aiming to share facts and findings on immigration detention and promising practices towards ending immigration detention in the region and globally. Follow our Facebook and Twitter to stay updated through our weekly posts and graphics in English and Arabic.

Inclusion and Collaboration with Leaders with Lived Experience

The Resourcing Refugee Leadership Initiative (RRLI) is a coalition of six organisations in different parts of the world, some of which are IDC members. The initiative focuses on promoting the leadership of refugee-led initiatives (RLIs) in the global migration  and refugee rights space. In June 2022, RRLI published an open letter to UNHCR noting its concerns on the continued exclusion of RLIs from “funding streams, strategy development and decision-making processes, “including, the inability of refugee leaders to obtain visas for the annual UNHCR-NGO Consultations, and thereby excluded from the consultation process.” In the letter, RRLI acknowledges UNHCR’s extraordinary work in assisting refugees, but calls for change in key aspects, such as the inclusion of refugee leaders in decision-making. Additionally, there were calls from activists to ensure the next head of UNHCR has lived experience as a refugee, as stated in an article here.  

RRLI noted that in many countries, such as Egypt, refugee leaders are excluded from meetings with UNHCR and decision-making processes, with UNHCR citing concerns about conflict of interest. RRLI has also called on UNHCR to put people with forced displacement experience and refugee leaders at the centre. IDC shares RRLI’s concerns and echoes the need to centre leaders with lived experience and ensure their agency is truly fulfilled, through not only consultation, but recognition of leadership and the specialist knowledge needed to shape the policy decisions that directly impact their own lives and the futures of their communities. UNHCR has responded to some of the asks in this letter. 

Raids and detentions

Following our last blog update, the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya remains precarious. People and families continue to be subjected to ongoing arbitrary detention and human rights violations, as the UN Independent Fact-finding Mission on Libya reported in June 2022. Additionally, in April 2022, the UN Security Council Pursuant to Resolution 1970 (2011), the International Criminal Court (ICC) noted in its 23rd report that migrants and refugees in Libya have been subjected to arbitrary detention, unlawful killing, enforced disappearance and other violations that may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes. Further, raids on migrant homes and communities continue to occur. In April 2022, authorities launched raids in migrant communities in Zuwara, arresting around 300 people

Authorities in Tunisia have resumed using the informal Al-wardia detention centre for immigration detention purposes, which was previously closed by a court order in 2020. In response, in May 2022 28 human rights groups and civil society organisations called on authorities to stop using this informal centre to detain migrants, as there is no legal basis for its use, and there are many reported concerns regarding the conditions being experienced by migrants and refugees detained in this facility.

In Egypt, it was reported to IDC confidentially that in June authorities detained approximately 10 individuals in a round-up citing a lack of valid residency permits, regardless of their legal status with UNHCR. While those registered with UNHCR are often released within a week, however, people seeking asylum who are unregistered and still awaiting their registration appointment are at risk of indefinite detention or deportation.

Pushbacks and border controls

Pushbacks and interceptions have continued in Libya of people who have attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. As of May, authorities have intercepted and returned a total of 5,696 refugees, migrants, and people seeking asylum in 2022. Concerningly, 453 people have been reported missing, and 109 bodies have been recovered during this period as well. 

Similarly in Tunisia, in the government’s efforts to curb irregular migration to Europe, authorities continued to arrest migrants and refugees attempting to exit Tunisia without legal documentation. In April 2022, authorities arrested and detained 155 migrants and refugees from different African countries after preventing them from crossing the sea off the coast of Sfax. Several boats that did manage to leave the coast capsised, leading to the deaths of 20 people, while 98 others were rescued. 

In June 2022 in Morocco, around 1,300 to 2,000 migrants crossed from Moroccan borders to Melila enclave to reach Spain, and were then met with force and beatings that resulted in the deaths of 23 people. International human rights actors have called for immediate investigations into this incident and accountability for these killings. Human Rights Watch added that this “requires an independent, impartial investigation capable of determining what occurred and who bears responsibility for such loss of life.” This follows ongoing outsourcing of border control by Spain to Morocco, despite violations and concerns related to Moroccan management. Despite the concerns and over a year of diplomatic tensions, this agreement was further strengthened in April 2022 and later in July as the two countries renewed their migration cooperation commitments. 

IDC is deeply concerned by the continued loss of life and forced disappearances of people at these borders. The deterrence mechanisms being utilised by countries in both North Africa and Europe violate international human rights standards, which most States have committed to. IDC urges States to ensure the protection, safety and freedom of people migrating, without being criminalised on the basis of their migration status.

As IDC continues to observe immigration detention trends across the MENA region, we will aim  to raise awareness about the current realities and challenges, and also shed light on the gravity of the situation and experiences of migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum in the region. As always, we believe there is an urgent need to find community-based alternatives to detention (ATD) that provide dignity to people on the move, and we call on governments to end immigration detention practices and allow for the implementation of right-based alternatives. We believe There Are Alternatives. 

In May 2022, IDC engaged MENA partners and contacts working on immigration detention issues to become IDC members. IDC members engage in dialogues on emerging and important issues related to immigration detention in national, regional, and global contexts. An IDC membership provides you with opportunities to exchange ideas and develop collaborative strategies to impact immigration detention law, policy and practice around the world. If you are interested in IDC membership or more information about IDC’s MENA Regional Programme, please contact: [email protected]


Written by Amera Markous IDC MENA Regional Coordinator

Summary Document: Children & Youth Workshop Consultations in Thailand

From December 2021 to March 2022, the Thai government Department of Children and Youth – Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (DCY), International Detention CoalitionTerre des Hommes Germany (TDHs) and UNICEF Thailand, with support of the European Union, co-organised the Children and Youth affected by Migration-Led Advocacy Workshop and Consultation on the National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration in Thailand. 

These partners developed a summary document describing their work with children and youth during this time. This includes a detailed overview of the problems and challenges identified by the children and youth, the proposals they presented to government stakeholders and their responses, as well as an Appendix with a list of coordinated forums, the Statement of Children and Youth Affected by Migration in Thailand, and the child-friendly activities implemented throughout this initiative, with further child-friendly materials available here.

For further insights and reflections, please also view the corresponding blog: 5 Lessons We Learned From Children & Youth Affected by Migration in Thailand.



Summary Document English (16 pages) DOWNLOAD










Summary Document Thai (18 pages) DOWNLOAD

5 Lessons We Learned from Children & Youth Affected by Migration in Thailand


Today, millions of children and youth migrate and cross international borders for many complex reasons, with some forced to leave their homes to escape conflict, violence, poverty, or environmental degradation, and to seek safety, peace and stability. Along the way, they are at risk of abuse, exploitation, and violence. Many travel with family members, but an increasing number of children are travelling alone, putting them at greater risk of harm and exposure to these dangers. The impact of these experiences is devastating and long-lasting. 

In response, the international community has made a number of commitments to protect and uphold the rights of children. For example, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted in 1989, and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Global Compact on Refugees (GRC) which were both adopted in 2018 and have been implemented since. In Asia, at the sub-regional level, the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration (ASEAN-CCM) and its Regional Plan of Action (RPA) were adopted and began implementation in 2019 and 2021, respectively. Additionally, at the regional level, children and youth affected by migration shared their views at the Asia-Pacific Regional Review of Implementation of the GCM in March 2021, as well as at the virtual launch of the ASEAN RPA on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration in January 2022. 

As the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) takes place this May, and beyond, more leadership and agency need to be given to people with lived experience, especially children and youth, to provide feedback and to influence laws, policies, and practices that directly impact their own lives. This inclusion will lead to better and more informed policy development and implementation by States and relevant stakeholders at all levels, with the aim to ensure that the human rights of displaced people and migrant communities, especially children, are always promoted, protected and fulfilled. 

Painting by migrant and refugee children asking the Myanmar government to stop killing people, and requesting Thailand to provide safe space for refugees from Myanmar. Photo Credit: The Development for Children and Community Network (DCCN)

Children and Youth Lead the Way

From December 2021 to March 2022, the Thai government Department of Children and Youth - Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (DCY), International Detention Coalition, Terre des Hommes Germany (TDHs) and UNICEF Thailand, with support of the European Union, co-organised the Children and Youth affected by Migration-Led Advocacy Workshop and Consultation on the National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration in Thailand. Here are five lessons we learned from this important initiative:

1. Meaningful child participation is critical to advocacy

Meaningful “child participation” refers to ensuring that all children enjoy the right to be heard, express their opinions, and influence decisions that impact them directly. This practice has proven to have a positive impact on the development of children and youth, through enabling them to acquire skills, build on their strengths and competencies, and increase their confidence and self-esteem. Child participation also advances the capacities of children and youth to promote leadership, civic engagement, tolerance, and respect for others. By applying the child participation principle throughout the capacity building process of this initiative, we strengthened the personal and collective empowerment of 175 children and youth affected by migration across 7 provinces in Thailand, including those from migrant, asylum seeking, refugee, and statelessness backgrounds. Through this leadership programme, which was designed using various partner materials, such as TDHs’s Manual on Children’s Participation and IDC’s Community Leadership Curriculum, these young people learned how to analyse relationships of power and develop campaigns to target policy makers and implementers. They also learned about the fundamentals of child rights, and global and regional policy mechanisms.

Migrant children and youth in Maesot, Thailand share their understanding of safety through pictures. Photo Credit: Help Without Frontiers Foundation (HWF)

This group was diverse in background, age, gender, legal status, language, etc., which gave them the opportunity to learn from each other, and share their experiences, challenges and ideas for solutions. Child-centred and inclusive approaches were critical to this process, as it allowed for effective interaction between children and youth, facilitators, teachers, parents and others working on this initiative. As a result, the children and youth were more engaged and confident in amplifying their voices to adults in decision making. We also developed child-friendly materials on the GCM, GCR, ASEAN-CCM and RPA to help children and youth understand these instruments in a simple and clear way so that they were better able to strategically share their opinions with the Thai government and other stakeholders. We also provided capacity building for local organisations to facilitate meaningful child participation using these materials at the grassroots level on an ongoing basis. 

While there has been progress through this initiative, meaningful child participation in policy and decision making continues to be limited. All stakeholders are needed to address this issue and ensure widespread inclusion of the leadership of children and youth affected by migration in advocacy and policy making. 

Children with stateless status in Chiang Rai, Thailand tell adults what makes them feel happy and unhappy. Photo Credit: Hill Area and Community Development Foundation

2. Lived experience leadership has power and impact

In the migration context, leaders with lived experience are those who have direct, personal experience of the migration system, policies and issues. Based on their lived experience and their leadership, these leaders are best placed to inform, shape, and guide social purpose efforts aimed to benefit communities with shared experiences to their own. 

In light of the Thai government’s National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration, which facilitates Thailand’s commitments in both Global Compacts, ASEAN-CCM, and its RPA, we invited migrant children and youth leaders from our capacity building process to share their experiences and solutions directly to policy-makers. In this forum, attended by Thailand’s Representative to ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children(ACWC), representatives from the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Social Development and Human Security, as well as international organisations and NGOs, the children and youth leaders raised their concerns and presented their statement and recommendations for addressing challenges they face, such as legal status, access to healthcare, access to education, and immigration detention. Listening to these young people and hearing their stories directly was incomparable to reading reports and data, and the representatives present were moved, and felt inspired by the children and youth to take action. The policy-makers and key stakeholders committed to ensuring that the leadership and voices of children and youth are included in the development of the National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration. 

Through this process, it was clear that centering the leadership of children and youth has power and impact in constructive engagement with policy-makers. We also learned that children and youth are key actors in creating systemic social change when provided the opportunity to do so.

Representatives of children and youth affected by migration in Thailand present their experiences, challenges and recommendations to the Thai government and relevant stakeholders. Photo Credit: Department of Children and Youth (DCY)

3. The whole-of-society approach increases collective capacity to make change

The whole-of-society approach is defined in the GCM and GCR as broad multi-stakeholder partnerships, including governments, UN agencies, civil society, migrant communities, and other actors, that holistically address migration and refugee issues in all of their dimensions. Both Global Compacts also encourage governments to work with relevant stakeholders to make national plans to actualise the agreements made in the Global Compacts through concrete action. In line with the GCM, GCR, ASEAN-CCM, and its RPA, we applied the whole-of-society approach by partnering with government agencies, UN agencies, international and local Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to advance a united goal to promote, protect and fulfil the rights of migrant children in Thailand. We did this together through the development of the National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration. 

Children with stateless status in Chiang Rai, Thailand present their needs to adults. Photo Credit: Hill Area and Community Development Foundation

Most importantly, we involved children and youth affected by migration as key stakeholders and partners in the design of this National Plan of Action through meaningful and constructive engagement and capacity support. We ensured that their voices and views were heard and were part of developing solutions, which we believe helps all stakeholders better respond to needs on the ground. This whole-of-society approach allowed all stakeholders involved to understand the mandates, capacities and strengths of their counterparts, and create ways to work together in their various roles toward developing a more humane, just and child-centred migration policy.  This collaborative approach is beneficial, as it increases our collective capacity as a group to challenge complex issues, which cannot be addressed alone or in silos. Most importantly, we learned that in broad multi-stakeholder partnerships, all actors must approach collaboration with respect, trust and with an open-mind. 

The Thai government, intergovernmental organisation, civil society organisations, UN agency, and lived experience leaders jointly committed to improving the situation of children and youth affected by migration in Thailand. Photo Credit: Department of Children and Youth (DCY)

4. Political will is necessary to make systems change

Thailand is a GCM Champion Country, and leads the implementation of Objective 13 of the GCM (alternatives to detention and ending child immigration detention) and Objective 15 (access to services for migrant communities; particularly access to healthcare). Thailand also plays the lead role in developing and implementing ASEAN-CCM and its RPA. These various global and regional commitments affirm the Thai government’s political will to promote the rights of children affected by migration in the country. The commitments also create a more inclusive and enabling environment of change among relevant stakeholders, including civil society, migrant communities and UN agencies, who can more easily plan their advocacy in line with the governments’ agreements within these global and regional instruments. 

Additionally, it is important that we learn from children and youth affected by migration and their leadership and advocacy in Thailand, and use our experience as an example of systems change where those most impacted are part of the change-making process from the beginning. There is much more for the government and relevant stakeholders to do from here on to ensure widespread replication of this process. For example, all stakeholders must agree to this new approach, and involve children and youth affected by migration throughout the development and implementation of policies that directly impact them.

H.E. Wanchai Roujanavong, Thailand’s Representative to ACWC for Children’s Rights, told children and youth affected by migration to bring their suggestions to ASEAN to help promote meaningful change. Photo Credit: Department of Children and Youth (DCY)

5. Global-to-local advocacy must be driven by local solutions 

The global-to-local concept is based on ideas of inclusion and interconnection between global and local levels. For example, the GCM, GCR, ASEAN-CCM, and its RPA are global and regional instruments and commitments that must be implemented at national, local and community levels. Through our process, we applied this concept by translating global and regional commitments into the local context by creating a roadmap for implementation alongside children and youth affected by migration - the National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration. 

We identified this process as a good practice and an important local solution in Thailand, and believe that the lessons we learned can help others hoping to do the same in their countries, as local solutions in one country can be adapted, replicated and scaled in other settings. By sharing the lessons we’ve learned, we hope to help encourage others to also ensure that the voices and leadership of migrant children are heard in all parts of the world.

Children and youth affected by migration from Bangkok and suburb areas celebrate their successful advocacy with the Thai government and relevant stakeholders. Photo Credit: Department of Children and Youth (DCY)


The partners involved in this initiative have developed a detailed Summary Document about their children and youth consultation and leadership process, please view this for more insights. For further information about the Children and Youth Affected by Migration-Led Advocacy initiative in Thailand, please contact: 


Written by Chawaratt Chawarangkul IDC Southeast Asia Programme Manager & Mia-lia Boua Kiernan IDC Communications & Engagement Coordinator

Statement of Children & Youth Affected by Migration in Thailand

In Thai Below

"When we children on the move come together, our voices will be meaningful. We will make a change, create protection and vigorously promote our rights."

The Rights of Children in the Context of Migration in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand: 22 March 2022

The 17 of us, as representatives of the hundreds of children on the move, from all regions of Thailand, have gathered together to make a voice for children and youth affected by migration to be involved in creating positive change to make us child citizens of the world with equal rights to all children.

We would like to thank you for all the opportunities to bring us together and give us the opportunity to learn and share with our opinions towards the National Plan of Action to advance the ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration as well as bringing our voice to reflect our participation in the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). We know that the adults working with us do not leave children like us behind, and put importance on children’s voices at the policy level in a meaningful way.

In the context of migration, we may face special challenges that need support. But as children we still have rights, dreams, and hopes, like all children. We would like to ask adults to help us remove any obstacles that might hinder the rights we deserve, and support whatever will make our dreams and hopes come true. We raise a voice for the right to enable us to have a good life like every child around the world.  

We raise our voice for:

  • Right to Legal Status We and many friends were born and live in Thailand. Having an ID card and having citizenship in Thailand will give our lives a clear purpose. If we have been given legal status, we will also be able to access child rights. It will become a licence for us to live, study, work and have a bright future.
  • Access to Healthcare Three equal benefits and access to public health services.
    1. Pay attention – pay equal attention to medical treatment for patients regardless of their backgrounds and consider the psychological impacts.
    2. Visibility – visualise and optimise services for migrants, refugees, and stateless persons.
    3. Equitable treatment – include universal health coverage for all groups of children on the move.
  • Access to Education Equal quality education and more education opportunities. Education must reach children on the move, like all children. Children on the move need quality education that is suitable for us, such as free education or support scholarships. We also need to be able to obtain education certification without restrictions to help open the door to our dreams and our futures.
  • Right to Security & Freedom from Arbitrary Detention We do not want children on the move to be arrested and detained due to our immigration status. We do not want to be separated from our parents. We want to be cared for by our families without immigration detention in any circumstance. We should be able to go to school and live as a child and have the same rights as all children. We ask adults to solve this problem for a sustainable solution nationally and internationally.

In the end, we thank everyone for being open-minded, and for listening and hearing children and youth affected by migration. You have made our voices meaningful by bringing them to create positive change on many levels. For us and together with us, we want you to know how much this means to us. We will never stop dreaming, never stop hoping, never stop improving ourselves, and never stop pushing for positive change, and for the rights of all children.



เมื่อพวกเราเด็กเคลื่อนย้ายรวมตัวกัน เสียงของพวกเราจะมีความหมายเราจะสร้างการเปลี่ยนแปลง สร้างการคุ้มครองป้องกัน และส่งเสริมสิทธิของพวกเราอย่างมีพลัง


กรุงเทพ, ประเทศไทย, 22 มีนาคม 2565

พวกเราทั้ง 17 คน ในฐานะตัวแทนเครือข่ายเด็กและเยาวชนที่ได้รับผลกระทบจากนโยบายที่เกี่ยวกับการโยกย้ายถิ่นฐานหลายร้อยคน จากทุกภูมิภาคของประเทศไทย ที่ได้รวมตัวกันเพื่อร่วมกันส่งเสียง ของเด็กและเยาวชนเคลื่อนย้าย หรือ เด็กในบริบทโยกย้ายถิ่นฐาน ให้ได้  เข้าไปมีส่วนในการสร้างการเปลี่ยนแปลงที่ดี ที่จะทำให้พวกเราในฐานะ “เด็ก” พลเมืองของโลก ได้รับสิทธิเช่นเดียวกันกับ “เด็ก” ทุกคน

พวกเราอยากขอบคุณทุกโอกาส ที่ทำให้พวกเราได้มาเจอกัน และเปิดโอกาสให้พวกเราได้รู้จักและ มีส่วนร่วมในการแสดงความคิดเห็น ทั้งต่อแผนปฏิบัติการระดับประเทศ เพื่อการขับเคลื่อนปฏิญญาอาเซียน ว่าด้วยสิทธิของเด็กในบริบทของการโยกย้ายถิ่นฐาน พร้อมทั้งยังพาเสียงของเด็กไปสะท้อนการมีส่วนร่วมในข้อตกลงระหว่างประเทศเพื่อการโยกย้ายถิ่นฐานที่ปลอดภัย เป็นระเบียบ และปกติ (GCM) และข้อตกลงระหว่างประเทศว่าด้วยผู้ลี้ภัย (GCR) ทำให้พวกเราทราบว่า ผู้ใหญ่ไม่ลืมเด็กอย่างพวกเรา ไม่ทิ้งพวกเราไว้ข้างหลัง และยังให้ความสำคัญต่อเสียงของเด็กอย่างมีความหมายในระดับนโยบายอีกด้วย 

ในบริบทของการโยกย้ายถิ่นฐาน พวกเราอาจเผชิญหน้ากับความท้าทายเฉพาะที่ต้องได้รับการช่วยเหลือและสนับสนุน แต่ในความเป็น “เด็ก” พวกเรายังมีสิทธิ มีความฝัน ความหวัง เหมือนกับเด็กทุกคน ขอผู้ใหญ่ช่วยขจัดอุปสรรคที่จะขัดขวาง สิทธิที่พวกเราควรจะได้รับ สนับสนุนสิ่งที่จะทำให้ความฝัน ความหวังของพวกเราเป็นจริง  พวกเราขอส่งเสียง เพื่อสิทธิที่จะทำให้ที่จะทำให้เรามีชีวิตความเป็นอยู่ที่ดี ในฐานะเด็กคนหนึ่ง เช่นเดียวกับ เด็ก ทั่วโลกอย่างเท่าเทียม 

พวกเรา ขอส่งเสียงเพื่อ: 

  • สิทธิของการมีสถานะบุคคลที่ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย 

พวกเราและเพื่อนหลายคน เกิดและอยู่ในประเทศไทย การได้มีบัตรประชาชน มีสถานะบุคคลที่ถูกต้อง หรือเป็นพลเมืองของประเทศ จะทำให้ชีวิตของพวกเรามีจุดมุ่งหมายที่ชัดเจน หากพวกเราได้รับสถานะบุคคลที่ถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย พวกเราก็จะสามารถได้รับสิทธิต่าง ๆ และ เป็นเหมือนใบเบิกทางในการใช้ชีวิต การศึกษา การทำงาน และอนาคตที่ดีของพวกเราอีกด้วย 

  • สิทธิการรักษาพยาบาล

สิทธิประโยชน์และการเข้ารับบริการสาธารณสุขที่เท่าเทียม 3 ประการ

  1. ใส่ใจ – ใส่ใจในการรักษาพยาบาลแก่ผู้ป่วย อย่างเท่าเทียม และคำนึงถึงผลกระทบต่อจิตใจของพวกเรา
  2. มองเห็น – มองเห็นและปรับปรุงแก้ไขบริการให้เหมาะสมกับเด็กเคลื่อนย้ายทุกกลุ่ม
  3. ปฏิบัติอย่างเท่าเทียม – รวมไปถึงหลักประกันสุขภาพทั่วหน้าเท่าเทียม ในกลุ่มเด็กเคลื่อนย้ายทุกกลุ่ม 
  • สิทธิทางการศึกษา

การศึกษาที่มีคุณภาพ เท่าเทียม และอยากได้โอกาสในการศึกษาระดับสูงขึ้น การศึกษาต้องเข้าถึงเด็กเคลื่อนย้ายเหมือนเด็กทุกคน การศึกษาที่มีคุณภาพเหมาะกับความเป็นเด็กเคลื่อนย้าย การศึกษาที่ไม่มีค่าใช้จ่ายหรือสนับสนุนทุนการศึกษา และได้รับวุฒิการศึกษา โดยไม่มีข้อจำกัดใดใด เพื่อให้ประตูความฝัน และอนาคตของเราเปิดกว้าง

  • สิทธิการไม่ถูกกัก หรือคุมขัง

พวกเราไม่อยากให้มีการจับและกักเด็ก และไม่อยากให้แยกเด็กกับพ่อแม่ เราต้องการให้เด็กได้รับ  การดูแลโดยครอบครัว โดยไม่มีการกักหรือคุมขังเด็กไม่ว่ากรณีใดใด ควรให้พวกเรา   ได้ไปโรงเรียน ได้ใช้ชีวิตเช่น “เด็ก” และมี “สิทธิ” เช่นเดียวกับเด็กทุกคน อีกทั้งเราขอให้มีการแก้ปัญหา ทั้งในระดับประเทศและระหว่างประเทศ เพื่อแสวงหาทางออกที่ยั่งยืนให้กับเด็กที่ได้รับผลกระทบจากนโยบายที่เกี่ยวกับการโยกย้ายถิ่นฐาน

ท้ายที่สุด พวกเราขอบคุณที่ทุกคน เปิดใจ รับฟัง ได้ยินเสียงของเด็กและเยาวชนเคลื่อนย้าย และทำให้เสียงของพวกเรามีความหมาย นำไปสู่การเปลี่ยนแปลงที่ดีในระดับต่างๆ  เพื่อพวกเราและร่วมกับพวกเรา พวกเราอยากให้ทุกท่านทราบว่าสิ่งนี้มีความหมายต่อพวกเราเป็นอย่างมาก และพวกเราจะไม่หยุดฝัน ไม่หยุดหวัง และไม่หยุดพัฒนาตนเอง ไม่หยุดผลักดันการเปลี่ยนแปลงที่ดี สำหรับและเพื่อ “สิทธิ” ของ “เด็ก” ทุกคน 

Child-Friendly Advocacy Materials: Thailand

From December 2021 to March 2022, the Thai government Department of Children and Youth - Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (DCY), International Detention Coalition, Terre des Hommes Germany (TDHs) and UNICEF Thailand, with support of the European Union, co-organised the Children and Youth affected by Migration-Led Advocacy Workshop and Consultation on the National Plan of Action on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration in Thailand. See the video below of one of our workshops (in Thai with English subtitles):



Together, we developed child-friendly materials on the GCM, GCR, ASEAN-CCM and RPA to help children and youth understand these instruments in a simple and clear way so that they were better able to strategically share their opinions with the Thai government and other stakeholders. See those materials below, and feel free to utilise them for other youth leadership efforts as well:


English Materials on the Global Compact on Migration & Global Compact on Refugees DOWNLOAD






Thai Materials on the Global Compact on Migration & Global Compact on Refugees DOWNLOAD






Thai Materials on ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration & its Regional Plan of Action DOWNLOAD









English Video on Introducing ASEAN Declaration on the Rights of Children in the Context of Migration VIEW