From the President

Dear readers,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the website of Defence for Children International, an organization that advocates of children’s rights, and has presence in 40 countries around the world. Many people who are unfamiliar with our organization may ask what advocating for children’s rights means. Well, it means striving for a decrease in the number of children suffering abuse, unable to go to school, living on the streets, locked up in prison, being sold as slaves, forced to work to their own detriment, etc. Yet, in order to reach this result, a consensus on what each and every child is entitled to must be reached among all adults who hold a stake in the children’s well-being (whether they be parents, guardians, teachers, police officers, policy decision-makers, policy implementers, social workers, etc). This pre-requisite entails a change in attitude and policy that must precede a change in behaviour. It is on this level that DCI mainly operates, especially in the international arena.

Several of our national sections also provide much-needed services to children, such as free legal defence, counseling or educational training (see link on sections on this website), but our main job is to bring about this change of attitude and policy, followed by a change in the behaviour of the people directly responsible for the well-being of each child.

Thus, DCI is interested first and foremost in structural change, with special focus on the field of juvenile justice. We are guided in our actions by the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted in 1989, which stipulates that children are not only dependants and in need of protection, but are also true actors in building and participating in our society.

16 years on, Somalia and the United States remain the only two states in the world that have not yet ratified the CRC. While this fact is lamentable, the fact that all other nation states have adopted the CRC shows that, at least on a formal political level, almost all the governments share the CRC vision of children and their role in society. This is a start, but there is still a long way to go. Needless to say, DCI needs your help in fulfilling its mission. We cannot emphasise enough the absolutely dire need for more help in combating the root causes of child rights’ abuses. If the root causes are effectively addressed, there will be fewer abuses and hence fewer effects that need to be mitigated. So how can you help us in our quest? In many ways: by browsing the rest of this website, you will find out more information on our programmes and campaigns, and the link “how to help”. We look forward to hearing from you directly; you can write to us at

Again, on behalf of DCI, I appreciate your interest in promoting and protecting the rights of the most vulnerable collective in the world. We must keep striving to attain the well-being of children worldwide.

Warm greetings,

Rifat Kassis
DCI President