Who We Are

About us

On 21 March 2012, the International Detention Coalition launched the Global Campaign to End Child Detention at the United Nations Human Rights Council. In that moment we set in motion a global movement grounded in a simple vision: a world that cherishes the humanity and dignity of children. Specifically, we have campaigned to persuade the international community that holding children and their families in immigration detention is always a child rights violation.

We have grown to be a powerful and united civil society network with more than 160 organisations from almost 50 countries. With more than 5000 staff members, ten thousand volunteers and hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide spanning the Americas, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, this network represents a diverse cross section of global civil society.

As our network has expanded, we have mobilized around the demand for States to adopt child-friendly, humane, non-custodial and community-based alternatives to detention. We have witnessed the impact of our campaigning in a number of ways. Notably, the New York Declaration in September 2016, in which every UN Member State made a commitment to end child detention, delivering a clear political platform for our campaign. Our campaigning has also impacted international law, which now clearly reflects our position that the detention of all migrant children, even as a last resort, is a child rights violation.

Although our campaign has made progress, many States continue to lock up children and their families, simply for not having the right documentation. The global landscape for policy change on child rights has come to a critical turning point. We have international law on our side and we have a commitment from the international policy making community. Our job now is to coordinate globally, in order to mobilise with the most strategic impact to make change a reality. Now is the time for the campaign to encourage its supporters and partners to put pressure on their national governments to take action towards ending child detention, once and for all.

We envision a world where all children are able to say:


Children must be treated in full accordance with international law regarding child rights.


Children under no circumstances must be detained. Liberty is a fundamental human right.


The best interest and well-being of the child is the primary consideration of any State.


States must develop alternatives to detention and community placement models.


Children must never be alone. States must be bound by international principles of family unity.

Our strategic objectives:

To increase awareness of and build a movement around ending the immigration detention of children

To urge governments to undertake action to create child-friendly alternatives to immigration detention

To support the development of legal frameworks that uphold the rights of children and families.