The working documentChild Rights in the Global Compacts: Recommendations for protecting, promoting and implementing the human rights of children on the move in the proposed Global Compacts” lays out goals, targets and indicators through which key commitments to child rights outlined in the New York Declaration can be transformed in actions for both Global Compacts.

The working document is a product of the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts, co-convened by Save the Children and Terre des Hommes, a multilateral initiative supported by a Steering Committee – made up of 26 organisations – which aims to achieve the global respect for the rights of all children, whether nationals or non-nationals. While preparing the document the authors had a wide range of inputs thanks to regular consultations with experts and organisations, two webinars, one virtual meeting of experts and the Global Conference on Children on the Move.

The two Global Compacts are to be agreed upon by government representatives at the UN in 2018. This is why the Initiative on Child Rights in the Global Compacts has developed the Working Document: to put forward goals, targets and indicators to make sure a common global approach to protecting children on the move is reflected. The working document adopts the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) framework as a suggested model to monitor progress towards the achievement of goals concerning refugee and migrant children.

The working document sets out protection and inclusion measures with respect to six themes identified as priority issues:

1) Non-discrimination

2) Best interests of the child

3) Child protection

4) Child immigration detention

5) Access to services for refugee and migrant children

6) Sustainable solutions in children’s best interests

We consider this Working Document a resource for dialogue to be used in the next months starting with the Global Forum on Migration and Development, held this week.

Read the Working Document

Read more on the six themes…


1.    Non-Discrimination:

Children on the move are often targets of xenophobic attacks, which can manifest themselves in both physical assault, hate speech and/or indirect discrimination. We ask governments to create a more open and tolerant society by promoting diversity and social inclusion measures. We also believe that laws or measures that criminalise the provision of services to any refugee or migrant children, or which require service providers to share personal data for immigration enforcement should be abolished. Children on the move should have equal access to services without repercussions because of their immigration status.


2.    Best Interest of the Child:

Whenever a decision is made that will affect a child or a group of children or children in general, the decision-making process must be open and take into consideration the best interest of the child. We ask that the best interest of the child be the primary consideration in all actions affecting children on the move. In order for this to be the case, governments must recognise the importance and thus guarantee access to free legal representation for all children on the move and, specifically for unaccompanied and separated children, the swift appointment of qualified guardians and advisors.


3.    Child Protection:

A primary obligation of the child protection system for children on the move is to support family unity or family reunification (where it is in the best interest of the child). Besides, the system should have the capacity to protect children from violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.  We ask governments to give appropriate and integrated child protection care and services from the moment refugee and migrant children arrive in the country. We also ask for effective cross border cooperation to ensure a continuum of care. It is important that protection for children on the move be integrated in the national child protection system.


4.    Child Immigration Detention:

The detention of children because of their or their parents’ immigration status should not take place. The detention of children is always a child rights violation as it goes against the Principle of the best interest of the child. We ask that governments put an end to immigration detention of children and that they identify and put in place alternatives to detention – which are human rights-respecting alternative care and protection arrangements.


5.    Access to Services:

Children on the move are entitled to basic health, education, social protection and psychosocial care. We ask governments to grant immediate access to these services upon arrival at reception facilities. All refugee and migrant children should be registered at birth and be provided with documents so that they can access services. Children on the move should also have access to quality education, on equal footing with national children.


6.    Sustainable Solutions in Children’s Best Interests:

All decisions concerning solutions should be made on a case-by-case basis, with a view to ensuring the child’s safety and security, and must be grounded in the best interests and rights of the child concerned, in conformity with the principle of non-discrimination and taking due account of the gender perspective. Governments should make clear procedures to determine refugee status and clarify pathways to permanent residence status. Returns should always be assisted and voluntary and States should agree on an internationally recognised returns procedure and monitoring mechanisms to assess re/integration of the children who have been returned.