“Children who are deprived of liberty fall into a statistical vacuum, with numbers of these children potentially ranging anywhere from the tens of thousands to the millions” – Jan Eliasson, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General


The Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty aims to shed light on the situation of children deprived of liberty and present recommendations to ensure that deprivation of liberty is a measure of last resort.

Defence for Children International led the campaign calling for the Study and currently co-convenes its NGO Panel.

The Study, which officially started in 2017, is led by Manfred Nowak, professor of international law and human rights and former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, who was appointed as the Independent Expert on 25 October 2016.

Aim of the Study

The Global Study will accomplish the following:

  • Collect qualitative and quantitative data to document the situation of children deprived of liberty, in all its forms;
  • Assess the implementation of applicable international laws and standards, and the effectiveness of existing approaches;
  • Identify good practices;
  • Formulate recommendations for action at national, regional and international level

Thematic clusters

The Study will include the following thematic clusters:

  • Criminal justice / juvenile justice / administrative detention
  • Migration / asylum seeking
  • Children in detention with their parents
  • Protection / associated with disability, health or substance abuse
  • Association with armed groups and/or national security

“Without Defence for Children International there would be no Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty”

Prof. Manfred Nowak, Independent Expert leading the Global Study

From launching the campaign to leading the NGO Panel, the key role of DCI

The Campaign

The GSCDL was officially requested by the UN General Assembly, marking the success of Defence for Children International’s campaign launched in March 2014. Read more about the key steps and achievements that led to the UNGA resolution

The NGO Panel

DCI co-convenes the NGO Panel for the GSCDL, which has been set up to coordinate joint advocacy and lobbying efforts towards the launch, completion and follow-up of the Study. At the end of 2016, more than 100 civil society organisations had joined the NGO Panel.