Distinctive features


The movement was founded in July 1979 by Nigel Cantwell and Canon Moerman, the chair of the International Year of the Child, at a time when children's rights were not the main focus of many organizations.

The International Year of the Child instigated the dissemination of an unprecedented amount of information about children's rights violations such as torture, prostitution, economic exploitation, arbitrary detention, and trafficking and sale.

At the time, few international structures were dedicated to a human rights-based approach to the many problems faced by the world's children. Defence for Children International was established in direct response to this gap.

Defence for Children mobilized the NGO community to become actively involved in the drafting process of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The resulting NGO "Ad Hoc Group", established in mid-1983, made significant contributions to the Convention's final text.

In 1987, the NGO Ad Hoc Group joined UNICEF in publicly promoting the objective of having the Convention ready for adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989.

Following the unanimous adoption of the Convention by the General Assembly on 20 November 1989, Defence for Children national sections successfully lobbied their governments to ratify the new Convention.

Defence for Children International sections were often the first to take the initiative of producing an NGO Alternative Report for the Committee on the Rights of Child, or to initiate national coalitions.

Through DCI's major role in co-ordinating NGO input to this drafting process, it developed substantial links with other NGOs and established itself as a centre of expertise and resources.

DCI has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Council of Europe, and working relations with UNESCO, UNICEF and the ILO.


It is a global movement present in over 40 national sections that represent 5 continents.

The sections are coordinated at an international level but they are independent and locally governed.

Its activities are systematic and organized, and aimed at changing the causes of rights violations.

It is not afraid to speak out against violations and those who are to blame.

It is a non-religious and independent associative movement, open and accessible to the participation of everybody who shares its mission.

It exercises its influence on the United Nations through a Coordination Secretariat in Geneva and a seat of representation in New York.

It promotes its development through different ways of communication, fundraising, and partnerships that are in-line with the fundamental principles of the organization.

2013 | ® Defence for Children International Italia

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