45th Anniversary of Defence for Children International

30th Anniversary of the Adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

5th Anniversary of the Un Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

December 2024, Geneva, Switzerland


DCI was founded on 5th July 1979 in Geneva, and significantly contributed to the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which was adopted in 1989.

The 45th DCI anniversary pays tribute to the work carried out by child rights advocates of DCI’s National Sections worldwide.

  • DCI’s national sections achieve sustainable change within their local communities.
  • They bring children’s human rights to the forefront of national agendas.
  • They make sure that children are treated as human rights holders.

2024 – Three important milestones


  • DCI celebrates its 45th anniversary

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) turns 35
UN Photo / Jean-Marc FerrŽ



The 2022-2026 Strategic Framework adopted by the DCI General Assembly meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania, 10-11 November 2022,

  • builds on the founding vision and principles of DCI
  • sets Justice for Children as overarching priority. This encompasses:
  • ambitious objectives
  • clear priorities
  • concrete means of action for all National Sections
  • all aspects of justice, including access to economic, social, cultural and climate justice

Four strategic priorities address justice for children from specific angles:

According to the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (GSCDL), over seven million children, an often forgotten and invisible population, are deprived of liberty. Numerous children are placed in inhuman conditions and facilities where their rights are violated, and they experience violence and degrading treatments. The NGO Panel for the GSCDL, representing 170 CSOs and the DCI Movement, disseminates the results of the Study and monitors the implementation of its recommendations.

Every year at least one billion children – half of the world’s children – experience some form of violence. This violence often occurs in places where children expect to be safe, such as schools or homes, and by individuals closest to children – parents, guardians, teachers, employers, police, and security forces. DCI advocates for the elimination of violence against children, based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in cooperation with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. DCI’s National Sections organise regular monitoring to identify children in vulnerable situations and to denounce abuses, such as child trafficking and gender-based violence. Their response includes individual psychosocial counselling and education programmes.

More than 34.7 million children are on the move around the world each year. DCI works with child migrants, child refugees, children seeking asylum, internally displaced children, stateless children, and children who have been trafficked. DCI is part of the Initiative for Child Rights in the Global Compacts, which works on the inclusion of child rights principles in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and in the Global Compact for Refugees.

250 million children live in conflict-affected countries. They are deprived of their childhood and basic human rights. They are drawn into hostilities, either directly as child soldiers or indirectly by being forcibly displaced, detained, killed, maimed, abducted, injured, or exploited. Children in conflict situations should enjoy full protection and human rights in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.

Cross-cutting priorities are mainstreamed within the framework of all strategic priorities:

Children are advocates for their rights. They are not only rights-holders in need of protection but also active members of society, capable of claiming their own rights. DCI’s work on child participation is underpinned by the rights enshrined in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, including the right of every child to express his or her views, and for his or her views to be respected also in judicial and administrative proceedings. In practice, child participation means involving children in all matters that affect their rights and well-being, and this applies to all DCI activities.

Girls and young women experience multiple forms of discrimination and violence. These are exacerbated by situations of conflict and instability, depriving them of their human rights and preventing them from achieving their full potential as members of society. In addition, girls and women are targeted in acts of sexual violence, especially as a form of war tactic. The gender perspective is mainstreamed into all DCI policies according to the principles enshrined in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In 2019, DCI renewed its commitment to gender equality through its Code of Ethics and Gender Policy which establishes minimum standards to ensure equal participation and access to positions and resources to women and men at all levels of the organisation.


DCI Impact Highlights


Defence for Children International implements international projects to protect and promote the rights of children. Two major projects are the Socio-legal Defence Centres and the SHE LEADS programme.

The Socio-legal Defence Centres (SLDCs) address children’s needs and provide evidence-based advocacy through a child-centred and holistic approach. In more than 20 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, SLDCs offer free legal and psycho-social assistance to children in conflict with the law and child victims of violence. This includes awareness-raising activities on child-friendly justice for children, their families, and duty-bearers. Advocacy to foster structural change takes place at local, national, and regional level via the National Sections and at international level via the DCI International Secretariat.

The SHE LEADS programme is part of DCI’s long-standing commitment to gender equality. The goal of this innovative initiative is to strengthen the influence of girls and young women on decision-making and the transformation of gender norms throughout Africa and the Middle East. At the international level girls and young women drive policy change through the UN Human Rights Council, the High-Level Political Forum (SDGs) and the Commission on the Status of Women. In 2022, SHE LEADS played a pivotal role when the UN Human Rights Council adopted a ground-breaking Resolution on discrimination against women and girls.

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