The IBCR endeavours to protect the rights of children in cases of man-made crises, especially armed conflict, and in the event of natural disasters, particularly those related to climate change.

What is an emergency situation?

The IBCR defines an emergency as an extraordinary situation of a State or community characterized by a humanitarian crisis that endangers the minimum living conditions, security, health and survival of the population and that requires a rapid and coordinated response. These situations may be caused by natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions), climate change (floods, desertification, famine, drought), epidemics (measles, HIV, Ebola virus), or armed conflicts.

Since 2010, the protection of children in emergencies has been considered by the United Nations as a life-saving intervention, alongside the distribution of food or the provision of emergency health care.

What is our action?

The International Bureau for Children’s Rights is an organization with a mandate to implement activities that complement direct assistance initiatives. The IBCR aims to protect and promote children’s rights against abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence during emergencies by helping to strengthen protection systems before, during and after a crisis. For more than 20 years, the Office has been working with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action, the African Union, Save the Children and the Swedish International Development Agency to :

  • Act on the preparedness of States and the various actors to deal with emergency situations in terms of planning and contingency planning
  • Strengthen the capacities of front-line actors (civil society, defence and security forces, social practitioners, justice personnel, etc.) and children themselves in order to increase their resilience and mitigate the effects of the crisis
  • Provide technical support for the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring and reporting the worst violations of children’s rights, for understanding and applying international standards and laws specific to emergency contexts, and for integrating mandatory training curricula before and during the deployment of military, civilian or police personnel to peacekeeping operations.

The activities implemented by the Office may include the following:

  • Training of the various actors involved in crisis response on the standards for child protection in humanitarian response
  • Awareness-raising and advocacy with States and the various actors involved in the response to the crisis, with particular emphasis on child protection
  • The development of standard operating procedures for better coordination and referral of cases involving children
  • The development of internal policies and procedures for and with the various actors involved, including child protection policies
  • The inclusion of children’s participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of projects that benefit them – in its actions, and in those of others

How do we do it?

Capacity Building for Peacekeeping Forces

Working with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the IBCR collected and analysed more than 300 training tools used by peacekeeping centres and missions, governments, international organisations, and United Nations agencies. The purpose of this project was to train civil, military and police personnel before, during and after their deployment in peacekeeping missions.  Since 2011, the Bureau has continued to work with the DPKO and United Nations Police to produce training kits on child protection for police and military personnel.

 

Prevention and the protection of children’s rights in armed conflict

In addition to running capacity building activities for peacekeeping forces—particularly those in East, West and Central Africa—the IBCR aims to make international standards more accessible and promote their application. Since humanitarian workers often have a poor understanding of the legal framework surrounding the protection of children in armed conflict, it is rare that they fully apply new laws, resolutions and policies in their everyday work to ensure that children are properly protected. This prompted the IBCR to publish Children and Armed Conflict: A Guide on International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. This publication has become a well-known reference for stakeholders who work with children that have been affected by armed conflict. It is available online, free of charge, in several languages.

Interventions during humanitarian crises

One of the IBCR’s mandates is to assess the situation of children in countries or regions facing a state of emergency, and then to recommend concrete action to address issues affecting the situation of children over the medium and long term, particularly reconstruction strategies and plans. A few years ago, the IBCR coordinated a forum and workshop on the situation of children in Haiti with a view to spurring discussions on how to improve the situation of Haitian children and influence local reconstruction strategies. More recently, at the request of the Child Protection Working Group, the IBCR conducted a global study on the various experiences of children interacting with the legal system in countries or regions in crisis. 

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