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2021 UNCRC Day of General Discussion on Children’s Rights and Alternative Care

The UNCRC Committee on the Rights of the Child will hold its next Day of General Discussion (DGD) on 16 and 17 September on the topic of Children’s Rights and Alternative Care.

About the DGD

Days of General Discussion are convened by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child every two years. These provide an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the contents and implications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as these relate to specific Articles or topics.

The upcoming DGD will focus on the Rights of Children in Alternative Care. Chosen as the subject for discussion in 2019 and originally scheduled to take place in September 2020, this DGD, postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held on 16 and 17 September 2021, over two half days, to enable participation from people and organisations across the globe to come together across different time zones.

The DGD is much more than a meeting: it is an opportunity to listen to the experiences of children, young people and adults and to engage directly in a dialogue with Committee members and other stakeholders focusing on improving the lives of children in alternative care and preventing family separation whenever possible.

In Scotland, this is an opportunity to share knowledge, views and experiences as we consider the findings of the Independent Care Review, look towards the realisation of The Promise, and embark on the UNCRC being incorporated into domestic law in Scotland.

  • Everyone is welcome to participate and share their views, both in the run up to the DGD, as well as during and after Day, including:
  • Children and adults with experience of alternative care and/or the child protection system
  • Individual researchers, practitioners, and other professionals
  • Representatives of governments
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • United Nations human rights mechanisms, including Committees and representatives
  • United Nations bodies and agencies
  • National human rights institutions
  • The business sector

Background to the 2021 Day of General Discussion

Background to the 2021 Day of General Discussion

The proposal for this DGD to focus on Children’s Rights in Alternative Care was submitted by a group of organisations working in this area, including CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection.

These organisations were involved in the development of Key Recommendations to address challenges and opportunities in implementing the rights of children without parental care, aimed at Member States of the United Nations. This work was developed ahead of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in December 2019, and which centred on the rights of children in alternative care.

The UNGA Resolution on the Rights of the Child was adopted 10 years after the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children were unanimously welcomed in 2009. These Guidelines were developed as a result of the 2005 Day of General Discussion, which focused on Children without Parental Care, when the Committee recommended the preparation of a set of international standards for the protection and alternative care for care experienced children and young people.

Various resources were developed to facilitate awareness, knowledge, and implementation of the UN Guidelines, with CELCIS playing a key role, while working in collaboration with a range of international partners. These include ‘Moving Forward: Implementing the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children’, the official global Handbook to assist legislators, policy makers, practitioners in understanding and implementing the Guidelines; ‘Alternative Care in Emergencies (ACE) Toolkit’, a toolkit for practitioners on implementing alternative care programming in humanitarian settings; 'Getting Care Right for All Children', a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), delivered by CELCIS and the University of Strathclyde for a taskforce of humanitarian and children’s agencies, to help increase awareness, understanding and use of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children; and the Tracking Progress Initiative, an online tool that can be used to measure a country’s progress in the implementation of the Guidelines.

While it is clear that progress has been made in advancing key rights, many challenges remain across the globe. Often, these affect children who have lost, or are at risk of losing, parental care, including unnecessary family separation, low quality forms of alternative care, and discrimination. There is a need to build on and advance the implementation of a number of international and national agreements and actions to child protection and alternative care and ensure the rights of these children and families are fully protected.

What does the 2021 Day of General Discussion aim to achieve?

What does the 2021 Day of General Discussion aim to achieve?

The overall aim of this DGD is to examine the current situation regarding alternative care across the world, to identify and discuss particular areas of concern with regard to the unnecessary separation of children from their families, and to identify appropriate ways to respond to family and child separation in cases where it is unavoidable.

Objectives include acknowledging the harms that care can cause and the abuse of some children in care, and exploring measures that can be taken to ensure prevention, intervention and access to justice, accountability and suitable reparation; exploring efforts towards the development or strengthening of fully-integrated child protection systems, grounded in a multi-sectoral approach; and encouraging rigorous research to identify the outcomes and impacts of alternative care provision in different settings, and follow-up mechanisms for children leaving care.

To achieve this, it is essential that children, young people and adults with experience of alternative care and/or child protection systems have the opportunity to share their experiences and views on what constitutes quality care. This information will help to inform efforts to improve prevention of unnecessary family separation, deliver quality alternative care, and learn from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the view to strengthen the resilience of welfare systems going forward.

The DGD also provides an opportunity to review implementation of relevant international standards and progress made since the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child regarding children living without parental care.

Opportunities to get involved

Children, young people, adults, and relevant organisations are invited to share their knowledge, views and experiences, and engage with the Committee on the Rights of Child and stakeholders from across the world. Following the DGD, recommendations and guidance will be issued by the Committee, informed by responses and by what has been discussed, aimed at supporting implementation of relevant reforms at local and national levels.

There are two ways to do this:

1. A global, public consultation has been launched on the topic of Children’s Rights and Alternative Care to inform the DGD and its outcomes. The Committee is inviting all interested stakeholders, including children and young people, adults, and relevant organisations to respond.

All adults over the age of 18 with experience of care and/or child protection processes, and relevant organisations and stakeholders can send written contributions of up to 2500 words, which can be either public or confidential, to the UNCRC Committee.

Children and young people under the age of 18 with experience of care and/or child protection processes are invited to send written contributions directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Children may also send other forms of submissions, such as drawings, video and audio recordings. 

All contributions should be sent to: crc@ohchr.org

The deadline to submit contributions to the UNCRC committee is 14 June 2021.

2. A survey has been lauched for children and young people age between 5 - 25 to participate and contribute their views and ideas.

Read the survey guidelines

Take the survey

The deadline for participation in the survey is 30 May 2021.

All contributions will directly feed into and guide the discussions, so this is a fantastic opportunity to share your views, knowledge and experience!

Further guidelines on participation and submissions

Additional resources

The DGD concept note, available in English, Spanish and French, outlines the context, background, relevance, purpose, scope, and objectives of the 2021 Day of General Discussion:

Download the concept note

The working methods for the participation of children in the 2021 DGD aim to facilitate and promote the meaningful participation of all children, particularly those in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations, in the DGD:

Read the methods for participation

Information and guidelines about submissions are also available in a child-friendly format:

Read the child-friendly guidelines

Contact our international team at: CELCIS.international@strath.ac.uk