“End Child Detention” United Nations Secretary General

This week the UN Secretary General shared his much-anticipated report In safety and dignity: addressing large movements of refugees and migrants.

This report was drafted at the request of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and seeks to chart a bold new path forward for global migration governance.  The report will also be the starting point for State discussions during a 19 September UNGA high-level meeting on “addressing large movements of refugees and migrants”, which anticipates the adoption of a number of agreements by State leaders around a series of “Global Compacts” on ensuring the protection of fundamental rights in the context of global human mobility; sharing the responsibility for supporting and hosting displaced refugee populations; and securing expanded safe, dignified, and legal pathways for global migration.


Among other things, the report includes a central recommendation for States:


“To review border management and detention policies to ensure that the human rights of all those who arrive are upheld in line with international standards, consider alternatives to the detention of refugees and migrants and ensure that children, as a matter of principle, are never detained for purposes of immigration control;


The report further urges States to adopt alternatives to the detention of refugee and migrant children that are based on fulfilling the child’s best interests and which ensure child rights to liberty and family:


“I therefore call upon States to consider alternatives to detention for purposes of immigration control and to adopt a commitment never to detain children for this purpose…”


The Secretary General’s report and strong recommendations against detention and border control policies puts ending the practice of child immigration detention firmly on the agenda for the forthcoming 19 September UNGA high-level meeting.  The report also signals a clear expectation that States take steps to end the practice of child immigration detention “expeditiously and completely” as called for by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2012.


The IDC welcomes the report of the Secretary General and looks forward to continuing to play a lead role in advocating for an end to child immigration detention and in providing technical assistance to States in the exploration, development, and implementation of rights-based alternatives.


The IDC also continues to chair the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) to End Child Immigration Detention, an international alliance comprised of over 20 prominent UN and regional human rights experts, intergovernmental organisations, and NGOs who collectively represent stakeholders in every country of the world, and which exists to support States to end child immigration detention consistent with their international human rights obligations to protect the best interests of the child.