Working Together to End Child Detention at the United Nations

On September 20, the IDC and UNICEF supported the first-ever high-level roundtable of Member States, UN agencies, and civil society partners on exploring how to implement the State commitment to “work to end” child immigration detention as part of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.

 

The meeting was held on the margins of the 19 September High Level Summit (HLS) of the UN General Assembly to address large movements of refugees and migrants in New York which included protracted negotiations on the best interests of the child, resulting in a commitment to work together on a global multi-stakeholder initiative to end child immigration detention.

 

In total, the invitation-only roundtable event was attended by 25 participants, including Ambassador and Minister-level participants from Argentina, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico, Switzerland, and Uruguay. A list of participants to this high-level roundtable event can be found here, and a Background Note, Agenda, and Discussion Paper were circulated to all participants in advance of the meeting.

 

The meeting was convened by the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) to End Child Immigration Detention, for which the IDC is the current Chair. The IAWG is comprised of twenty-two prominent UN, intergovernmental, and civil society representatives who collectively represent stakeholders in every country of the world. Together, they have committed to a 3-year term of engagement in which they will seek to assist States to “expeditiously and completely” end the practice of child immigration detention, consistent with State commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

To provide critical technical support and guidance to Member States, the IAWG has recently published two resources which provide an overview of the issue of child immigration detention:

This Advocacy Brochure provides an overview of the issue of child immigration detention, exploring why children are on the move, available statistics on the number of detained refugee and migrant children around the world, the impacts of immigration detention of children and families, and available alternative care and support solutions for States, UN, and civil society partners to explore and implement.

This Summary of Normative Standards and Recommendations on Ending Child Immigration Detention provides a compilation of the current international normative consensus that immigration detention is never in the best interests of a child and represents a serious child rights violation.

The IDC extends its gratitude to all partners who participated in and contributed to this landmark meeting, and we look forward to continued cooperation and multi-stakeholder support as we take the next steps in helping States to implement the commitment to work to end the practice of child immigration detention “expeditiously and completely”.