Our work at the United Nations Part 3 – building in accountability to children

A young care experienced person from Latin America laughs at the camera - words express she's taking part in advocating for childcare reform

As the United Nations (UN) gathers this week for its annual General Assembly, we’re taking the opportunity to shed light on how we work with the UN to ensure global commitment to eliminating orphanages. In my last two blogs, I outlined our work with the Human Rights Council and treaty body process. In this final blog, I’ll introduce how we try to increase accountability to children and young people throughout our work. 

Accountable to children: young people’s voices 

It’s central to our strategy to ensure we, and everyone involved in transforming care systems, are accountable to the young people and families who are affected by their decisions. One way we look to do this is through enabling young people to influence policy making at the highest level.  

For example, our group of young advocates from Bulgaria submitted a report they had written to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Ensuring that the voices of care-experienced young people come across clearly in our UN advocacy represents a shift in the role of children and young people at the highest level., And we’re keen to replicate this success in wider policy formation. 

Care leavers leading the discussion at the UN

In 2021, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child held a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on Children’s Rights and Alternative Care.  

The overall purpose of the DGD was to examine the current situation regarding alternative care and identify and discuss particular areas of concern and appropriate ways to respond to family separation in cases where it was unavoidable.  

It was vital that the voices of care leavers were part of this discussion, because decisions about the best ways to care for children and young people are too often made without their involvement. We supported the DGD to ensure that more than half the speakers had some form of care experience, as well as involving a group of 30 children and young people in the design, delivery and reporting on the day.  

The DGD represented an opportunity for the Committee to send a clear message about supporting children in their families and communities, promoting the transformation of national care systems and phasing out orphanages. You can read more about this in our blog : “Put the money where the love is” – Reflections on the UK Day of General Discussion 

The outcome: Real progress towards a global consensus that orphanages are unacceptable 

In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Rights of the Child focused on children without parental care.  The resolution represents real progress because it gives us a new global consensus—commitments that all countries of the world have agreed to. You can read more about our engagement with the resolution and the work with our partners in this blog : A world without orphanages is possible 

Recent media coverage and dedicated support from partners like UBS Optimus Foundation and Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery also mean that our mission is reaching, and engaging, a global audience.   

With this consensus, increased engagement at all levels, and our and partners’ commitment to ending the institutionalisation of all children around the world, we’re keeping child protection system reform high on the international agenda. 

Part 2 – The Treaty Body Process

Read my previous blog about working through the treaty body process

Our work at the United Nations – Part 2 –the treaty body process