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UNICEF Child Protection Strategy

What is the UNICEF Child Protection Strategy?

The Global Child Protection Strategy defines the contribution of UNICEF to national and international efforts to fulfil children’s rights to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, within the context of the UNICEF medium-term strategic plan (MTSP) for 2006-2013. The strategy has been developed through intensive consultation with a wide range of key partners and UNICEF staff and it builds on extensive practical experience and findings from the Secretary-General's Study on Violence Against Children. The strategy was adopted in June 2008.

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What does the Strategy include?

The Global Child Protection Strategy contains 5 main approaches for building a protective environment:

  1. Strengthening national protection systems
  2. Supporting social change
  3. Promoting child protection in conflict and natural disasters
  4. Evidence-building and knowledge management
  5. Convening and catalysing agents of change

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How does the Diversion & Alternatives Toolkit relate to the Child Protection Strategy?

Within the Global Child Protection Strategy, justice for children [1] is part of the main approach of strengthening child protection systems. It is one of the areas prioritised for 'the development and implementation of common, multi-partner guidance for programmes and advocacy' (para 56). The strategy also highlights UNICEF's position as the UN lead agency for juvenile justice 'enabling the organisation to convene a process with other agencies to develop a United Nations-wide approach to justice for children' (para 61). Furthermore, the 'establishment of global baselines in juvenile justice' is highlighted in the 'tracking progress' section as a 'milestone' for 2010 (para 72). This toolkit aims to contribute to these aspects of the strategy by - in relation to diversion and alternatives - providing 'common, multi-partner guidance for programmes and advocacy', contributing to a 'United Nations-wide approach' and providing guidance on the establishment of baselines. Furthermore, the toolkit's approach to diversion and alternatives is deliberately embedded in the 'Protective Environment Framework' as set out in section II of the strategy.

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What is the 'Protective Environment Framework'?

The Protective Environment Framework (PEF) defines 8 broad elements that are critical to efficient protection. These interconnected elements work individually and collectively to strengthen protection and reduce vulnerability:
1. Governmental commitment to fulfilling protection rights (including appropriate policies and budgets);
2. Legislation and enforcement;
3. Attitudes, traditions, customs, behaviour and practices;
4. Open discussion, including the engagement of media and civil society;
5. Children’s life skills, knowledge and participation;
6. Capacity of those in contact with the child;
7. Basic and targeted services;
8. Monitoring and oversight.
For ease of reference, although they are understood to be heavily intertwined, these 8 elements are grouped into 'National Protection Systems' - which can include both state and non-state systems (elements 1, 2, 6, 7, 8) and 'Social Change' (elements 3, 4, 5). The PEF emphasises the need for the protection of all children (as opposed only to specific groups such as children in street situations). It is an approach centred very much on prevention as well as response.

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How does the Diversion & Alternatives Toolkit relate to the Protective Environment Framework?

Seen more broadly, the PEF promotes the healthy development of children and, amongst other things, can help to prevent children coming into conflict with the law in the first place. (See 'Diversion & alternatives in the broader context of child justice' for more information on prevention). For children who are already in conflict with the law, however, the 8 elements of the PEF still provide a useful framework of essential areas on which to focus for advocating and implementing positive change. The links between the PEF and diversion and alternatives could be usefully strengthened, and this toolkit therefore adopts the 8 elements as part of the toolkit approach and structure.

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Further reading

Full text of UNICEF Child Protection Strategy [pdf 125kb]

The UNICEF Global Strategy is based on a 2005 paper, published in Human Rights Quarterly, by Karin Landgren (then UNICEF Chief of Child Protection).

Full text of 'The Protective Environment: Development Support for Child Protection' by Karin Landgren, 2005 [pdf 239kb]

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1. 'Justice for children' refers to an approach aiming to mainstream attention to the impact on children and respect for children’s rights in all justice-related policies and decisions. This focuses on the rule of law and emphasises the need to better integrate child-friendly justice standards in broader justice and security reforms. This has implications not only for child protection programming, but also for any social, judiciary or human rights policy development. Refer to the glossary in the section on 'key reference documents' for further clarification of terms. The term 'juvenile justice', which appears later in this paragraph, refers specifically to children in conflict with the law.

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[Introduction / The bigger picture / UNICEF Child Protection Strategy]


Further information