October 13 2011

2nd anniversary of the UN Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children

Special event in New York

13/10/2011 - On 10 October the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations, in partnership with UNICEF, the NGO Committee on UNICEF and its Working Group on Children without Parental Care, the Better Care Network and SOS Children's Villages International held an event in New York to commemorate the two year anniversary of the Guidelines resolution and discuss their use and implementation.

Photo: SOS Archives
At the panel discussion about the relevance, impact and realization of the UN Guidelines on the Alternative Care of children in New York - Photo: SOS Archives
Since the UN Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children were adopted in 2009, they are increasingly used by UNICEF Country Offices, governments and NGOs. Nevertheless, there is still much work to be done to promote the implementation of the Guidelines, especially amongst governments. They were the principal target audience for this discussion, a side-event to the UN Social, Humanitarian Cultural Affairs Committee of the 66th UN General Assembly in New York.

The event brought together over 50 participants representing both governments (including Austria, Belarus, France, Israel, Pakistan and Singapore, among others) and civil society (such as Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, Zonta International, and World Vision).

Each of the speakers made a short presentation, which was followed by a thought provoking panel discussion, moderated by leading child protection expert, Nigel Cantwell. Questions to the panel raised issues such as: the use of the Guidelines during emergencies, the value of the Guidelines in preventing violence, the role of civil society in the successful implementation of the Guidelines, and the financing of implementation.

When asked how there can be improvements, based on the Guidelines, to care systems that are practically privately funded from abroad, Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, responded by making a strong case for family strengthening, "countries may think that outsiders solve one of their problems, but the truth is that it only postpones it."She also stressed the importance of child participation: "We cannot promote the Guidelines without joining hands with children. They know best what can work, what does not work and what are the alternatives.”

Ms. Rima Salah, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, took the opportunity to thank NGOs for helping to achieve a joint goal to protect children. She expressed concern over the situations of separated children in emergencies and also called for the closing of institutions, giving more attention to family-base care (including foster care, informal care, and small group homes) and family reunification.