The beginnings


The International Bureau for Children’s Rights – the “IBCR” or the “Bureau” – was created at the initiative of Andrée Ruffo, a former judge in the Youth Division of the Court of Quebec, and Dr. Bernard Kouchner, France’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, to protect, defend and promote children’s rights and wellbeing.

1995-2000 :


The IBCR establishes the International Tribunal for Children’s Rights. The mandate of this moral authority is to investigate violations of children’s rights and recommend concrete solutions. Four hearings are held successively in Paris, France; Fortaleza, Brazil; Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Colchester, United Kingdom. The topics examined include child sexual exploitation and children affected by armed conflict.



2003 :

The Bureau decides to make justice for children one of its top priorities. With financial support from various religious communities, the IBCR develops its Guidelines on Justice for Child Victims and Witnesses of Crime in Quebec in response to needs expressed by public authorities and professionals. These guidelines are the result of several years of analysis of international and regional instruments, research on best practices, and consultations with representatives from governments, NGOs, and others involved in children’s rights, criminal law, criminology and victimology.

In the same year, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) grants the IBCR special consultative status in recognition of its quality work and contribution to the United Nations’ work programmes and objectives.


2005 :

The Guidelines are officially adopted by the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria. From that point onward, the Guidelines are considered part of the international standards pertaining to children and enjoy similar status to the 1985 Beijing Rules on criminal justice for minors.

At the request of Canada’s Department of Justice, the Bureau carries out a Preliminary Study on Child Trafficking in Canada. The conclusions of this study enable the IBCR to devise a multi-sectorial action plan, including a toolkit for personnel working directly with children, as well as training for trainers and the development of advocacy initiatives targeting public authorities in Canada.


2008 :

After developing several country profiles examining the implementation of children’s rights and assisting several developing countries with strengthening civil society, the IBCR signs its first agreement with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Save the Children. This multi-year agreement focuses on promoting children’s rights among civil society groups in nine countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

2009-2012 :

The IBCR initiates an ambitious series of consultations in Africa on security force best practices, with a view to adapting these professional practices to children’s rights. This analysis allows the Bureau to identify core competencies, review training approaches and become a key actor in reforming policing practices. Since 2012, more than 25 countries have engaged the IBCR to assist them with sustainable capacity building initiatives for child protection workers.

2010 :

The IBCR becomes the proud Canadian representative of The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism (“The Code”).

Starting in 2010, the IBCR becomes involved in combating child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism as part of a Canadian coalition. The IBCR carries out several campaigns, primarily in airports, to raise awareness among travellers and national authorities. A few years later, the IBCR starts working with the Costa Rican non-profit Paniamor Foundation and World Vision to fight child sex tourism in Costa Rica by involving children, surfers, and informal sector entrepreneurs in these efforts.

The IBCR also furthers its interest in the impact of armed conflict on children, leading to the 2010 publication of a new edition of a guide on the international humanitarian and human rights laws related to children in armed conflict. This reference manual addresses both national organisations and international agencies, such as the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, etc.

2011 :

The IBCR begins collaborating with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations to thoroughly review child protection training material for military personnel preparing for deployment. In a second project phase, the Bureau develops targeted training material to strengthen the application of the child protection mandate set out in the United Nations Security Council resolutions dealing with children and armed conflict.

A new era

2015 :

  • A new era begins for the Bureau in 2015 with a new voluntary cooperation programme financed by Global Affairs Canada and operated jointly with Lawyers Without Borders Canada. Over a five-year period, more than two hundred Canadians will be deployed to partner organisations working in the human rights sector in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and West and North Africa. This programme aims to enhance the protection of the rights of children, women, and poor and marginalised communities, and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law through access to justice.
  • Three major contribution agreements are signed with Global Affairs Canada to support initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burkina Faso and Costa Rica. Lasting three to five years, the projects in DRC and Burkina Faso involve significant strengthening of the operating procedures and training programmes for security forces, social workers and justice personnel. The project in Costa Rica aims to build capacities among various stakeholders in the justice and security systems to help them more effectively combat human trafficking, particularly that of children, as well as child sex tourism.

2020 :

  • The last five years have consolidated the new orientation of the office, which is reflected in long term projects oriented towards capacity building of professionals. New projects were launched, some in new countries such as Senegal and Mali, and others as a continuation of existing projects, in order to provide more in-depth support to child protection systems (such as in Burkina Faso and the DRC).
  • A new 7-year voluntary cooperation programme (PCV) is launched, this time entirely managed by the IBCR.
  • The strategic direction taken puts child participation at the heart of the process.

Our work