Defining key compentecies to accompany children deprived of liberty

From 26 to 30 October,  seventy international experts in the field of child rights protection and justice for children met virtually and physically to identify and validate the core competencies that anyone working with children deprived of their liberty should master in order to protect them.

Just one year ago, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which states that the detention of children should be avoided to the maximum extent possible as it violates their most fundamental rights. Despite this, more than seven million children are still deprived of their liberty worldwide according to the World Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. Published in 2019 by the United Nations, the study highlighted the need for a collective effort to develop practices that are more sensitive to the rights, needs and particularities of children deprived of their liberty.

With this in mind, the International Bureau for Children’s Rights, with the support of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, organised a workshop lasting several days to define the core competencies to be emphasised when interacting with children deprived of their liberty. Experts in the rights and protection of children and people working in detention settings were thus able to deepen the little known aspects of deprivation of liberty in order to identify these key competencies. This process also made it possible to further exchange on the professions that work with children deprived of their liberty and on how to professionalise their interventions, and to share promising practices with regard to alternative measures to detention.

The current pandemic has prompted us to review the format of this workshop. The majority of the exchanges took place on digital platforms.  However, several meetings were held in our offices in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This hybrid  format allowed for rich and fluid exchanges despite the situation, and we would like to thank all the participants for their adaptability and their unfailing mobilisation.

The establishment of these core competencies will make it possible to harmonise the care of children deprived of liberty at the global level. This is a first in our field.

Issoufou Alkassoum, Director of Alternatives to Incarceration and Reinsertion, Niger

The workshop in figures :

  • 70 participants

  • 3 languages (French, English, Spanish)

  • 38 countries

The workshop prompted me to reflect on the “human side” of structures and systems and, consequently, on the importance of defining the core competencies of human resources working in environments where children are deprived of liberty. The workshop also helped me to clearly establish the need for a cross-sectoral approach to improving child protection systems. This was also visibly reflected in the profiles of the experts invited to contribute to the consultation.

Daniela Baro, Child Protection, UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa

A report compiling the core competencies of people working with children deprived of their liberty will be unveiled in the coming weeks. It will be available in French, English and Spain.


Find out more about our core compentency approach


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