A Step Backwards from Leaders at the UN High Level Summit

Today the High Level Summit (HLS) of the UN General Assembly to address large movements of refugees and migrants takes place in New York.


All 193 United Nations (UN) Member States unanimously adopted a set of political commitments – called the “New York Declaration“.


Child detention was an issue that was fiercely debated resulting in a commitment from all States to work towards ending child immigration detention.


This is another significant development that we, as advocates, can use. See it in writing for yourself at paragraph 33.


However, the rest of the language in paragraph 33 of the New York Declaration is extremely problematic, stating that detention for children can be used as a measure of last resort.


Here’s why that is a problem: States have consistently used the “last resort” language as a loophole that allows our governments to lock children up, spending their childhood behind bars.


The world’s leading experts on the issue of child rights, have consistently stated that child detention is always a violation of a child’s rights. They should be treated first and foremost as children, with their best interests taken into account.


There is a reason that these experts have been speaking out on this issue – children continue to be psychologically damaged from detention all around the world. The “last resort” language enables governments to think it is an acceptable practice.


There are alternatives to detention being used in more 65 countries around the world. They are more affordable, effective and humane, and provide practical examples of ways to govern migration.


The majority of the language in paragraph 33 of the New York Declaration is a massive step backwards. It is a painful reminder that we need to be clear and consistent in our message: detention is never in the best interests of a child.


So here’s where you can help.


The New York Declaration is the beginning of a two-year process that sees States working towards ending child immigration detention.


The Global Campaign supports organizations and individuals to work together to coordinate advocacy, sharing knowledge and insights and ensure we have a consistent message.


If you would like to be doing more, get in touch.  We can connect you up with other campaigners, and work to support your advocacy to end child detention.