What do we want for children in the Global Compacts?

What do we want for children in the Global Compacts?


Ignacio Packer​, Secretary General, Terre des Hommes IF

The extent and diversity of human rights abuses that increasingly impact children on the move and other children affected by migration is truly worrisome. In many cases it reaches such alarming levels that it is referred to as a human rights crisis that particularly affects children.

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants of the 19th September 2016 Summit expresses the political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale. The New York Declaration contains a number of important commitments to children. It also contains plans for how to build on these commitments which include the negotiations leading to an international conference and the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018 and a Global Compact on Refugees to be adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2018.

The next 18 months offer an important opportunity to raise the profile, understanding, implementation capacity and accountability for the rights of children on the move and other children affected by migration.

An Initiative “Child Rights in the Global Compacts” co-chaired by Terre des Hommes a​nd Save the Children aims to ensure the global compact on safe orderly and regular migration and the global compact on refugees are adopted in 2018 with coherent and harmonised child focused goals, targets and indicators similar to, and in line with, the 2030 Agenda.

With the state commitment to “comply with our obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child” (New York Declaration, para. 32) as the point of departure, and drawing upon the specific guidance of the CRC Committee as to the nature and scope of these commitments, efforts and resources of this Initiative will be focused on developing and advocating for a Children on the Move common approach across the two Global Compacts. This would be common for both Global Compacts on the basis of the principle of non-discrimination irrespective of a child’s migration or residency status.  

The process includes the elaboration by experts of a “Child Rights in the Global Compacts working document” with broad consultation using ad hoc regional meetings and a “Global Conference on Children on the Move” in Berlin on 12th and 13th June 2017. A “follow up strategy” at global level and in national capitals will advocate to the target groups for the Global Compacts to reflect common, harmonised and ambitious goals, targets and indicators for children.

The “Children in the Global Compacts working document ” will outline by end of June 2017 the goals, targets and indicators to be included in the two Global Compacts.

The working document is a “civil society-led but not only” enterprise with other stakeholders, especially UN agencies (UNHCR, CRC, UNICEF and IOM), the private sector, philanthropy/foundations and with states, “Friends of the Initiative”.

Depending on the planning of the thematic sessions of the Global Compact on Migration and development of pilots for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, these opportunities will be used for consultation and/or to feed into the discussion of the “Children in the Global Compacts working document”.

The “Global Conference on Children On the Move” in Berlin on 12th and 13th of June 2017 aims at extending, deepening, complementing and/or updating a number of initiatives already developed on Children on the Move. It is envisaged that the conference would focus on three broad sets of objectives:
  • Demonstrate the benefits of collective action to achieve clear positive outcomes for Children on the Move.
  • Assess progress and develop plans to accelerate implementation of commitments taken towards children on the move.
  • Explore the future for harmonious societies 

The “Global Conference on Children on the Move” is an inter-agency conference with, as one of its outputs, the “Children in the Global Compacts working document”. It will also be a key moment in the consultations for the “Joint General Comment” on the human rights of children in the context of international migration.

A final version of the “Children in the Global Compacts working document” scheduled for end of June 2016 is a corner stone of the “follow-up strategy”.  It will feed into the complementary Global Compacts processes and to be widely circulated to support advocacy in capitals, at regional level, in Geneva and in New York ahead and during the 2018 negotiations.

While initially focused on the Global Compacts, the expectation is for the impact of the Initiative to carry beyond the Global Compacts and to influence the way all children on the move are protected and supported. 

Documenting positive operational positive practices reflected in a document, “Child Rights in the Global Compacts working document”, should promote and enshrine the application of a child rights framework across all relevant migration policy discussions and reinforce the 9 Principles to guide actions concerning children on the move and other children affected by migration .  The “Child Rights in the Global Compacts working document” is envisaged to have a high level of implementation at the national level and to further contribute to the development of good practices via field references/lessons learned.

​Related resource:


Joint action by civil society - Unity in diversity

A child is a childno matter its migration status​