Side-event at the UN HRC

Side-event Global Study : ‘Count Children to Make them Count: Filling the data gap’

What we stand for

The Global Study on Children Deprived of liberty is almost ready! The Global Study, initially pitched by Defence for Children International (DCI) in early autumn 2013, aims to shed light on the magnitude of the phenomenon of children deprived of liberty through data collection and formal recommendations.

@DCI-IS, June 2019

Defence for Children International believes that the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty has great potential to prompt positive changes in law and practice to better protect children

The Global Study will be delivered to the UN General Assembly in New York on 8 October 2019. Defence for Children International, as co-convener of the 170-member NGO Panel along with Human Rights Watch, will continue to coordinate joint advocacy and lobbying efforts to ensure the follow-up of the Global Study’s important recommendations.

‘Count Children to Make them Count: Filling the data gap’

On 25 June, during the 41st  session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), Defence for Children International and Human Rights Watch organised a side-event together with the Permanent Missions of Austria, Belgium, and Thailand to the UN in Geneva entitled ‘Count Children to Make them Count: Filling the data gap’.

This side-event explored the main challenges in data collection, ranging from policy gaps to a massive data gap within administration and government databases.

In this context, Prof. Manfred Nowak, as Independent Expert appointed by the UN to lead the Global Study, informed that the questionnaire was sent to all UN Member States.

Children Deprived of Liberty are not counted. They are invisible, since many States do not count them or they do so in an uncountable way,” – Prof. Ann Skelton, Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

When contact was made with administrations and governments, “everyone was aware of the importance of data collection, and also willing to create or strengthen their data collection system”, noted Karen Van Laethem, President of the Belgian National Commission on the Rights of the Child. The event also focused on over-arching topics such as the legal framework, conclusions and recommendations, and follow-up to the Global Study. To follow the entire side-event, click here


“Ideally, the UN system should create a new indicator on children deprived of liberty as a form of violence against children and integrate it into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), invest in data collection tools, training programmes as well as translate the Global Study into official languages. If there is no follow-up, the work done will be lost” – Prof. Manfred Nowak, Independent Expert for the Global Study.


In parallel, Defence for Children International delivered a statement at the Human Rights Council during the Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children highlighting the situation of children deprived of liberty, as well as on the need to follow-up on the Global Study.

We are now 170 civil society organisations united in the NGO Panel, looking forward to the delivery of the Global Study and working with UN Members States to reduce the number of children behind bars!