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Days of general discussion DGD

2021 day of general discussion: Children’s rights and alternative care


16 - 17 September 2021


United Nations Office in Geneva

During its 81st session, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of independent experts responsible for reviewing progress made by States parties in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, decided to devote its 2020 day of general discussion (“DGD”) to the issue of children in alternative care, which was scheduled to take place on 18 September 2020. However, in the light of the health risks and travel restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Committee decided to postpone the 2020 DGD on “Children’s Rights in Alternative Care” to 2021. It will take place over two half days on 16 and 17 September 2021, during the 88th session of the Committee at the United Nations Office in Geneva, in the online format.

The purpose of General Discussion Days is to foster a deeper understanding of the contents and implications of the Convention as they relate to specific articles or topics. Representatives of Governments, non-governmental organizations, United Nations human rights mechanisms, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, national human rights institutions, the business sector, as well as individual experts and children are welcome to take part.

Overall objective of the 2021 DGD

The overall purpose of the day of general discussion was to examine broadly the current situation regarding alternative care in its complexity, identify and discuss particular areas of concern with regard to the unnecessary separation of children from their families and appropriate ways to respond to family and child separation in cases where it was unavoidable.

The day of general discussion also provided an opportunity to review implementation of relevant international standards and progress made since the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the Rights of the Child regarding children living without parental care, the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty and the normative discussions between the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Specific objectives of the 2021 DGD

  1. Create meaningful engagement for children and young people who have experience of the child protection system and/or of living in alternative care of any type so they can voice their opinions on what constitutes quality care and advocate for legislative and systemic changes;
  2. Acknowledge the harms of care and the abuse of children in care, and explore the measures that can be taken to ensure prevention, intervention and access to justice, accountability and suitable reparation;
  3. Draw lessons from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s care and alternative care, including on efforts to strengthen and reform alternative care systems, and make recommendations for the response and preparedness for future public health as well as social and environmental global crises;
  4. In order to prevent family separation, expand opportunities for learning from best practice in reducing the number of children admitted to formal alternative care, through enhanced prevention and gatekeeping initiatives;
  5. Expand opportunities to learn from evidence about alternative care options and evidence about what constitutes quality alternative care, with a view to establishing a meaningful process for developing guidance on this;
  6. Explore efforts towards the development or strengthening of fully-integrated child protection systems;
  7. Explore innovative approaches to alternative care for children in particularly vulnerable situations, such as humanitarian contexts and migration, and learning from existing good practices.


DGD recordings

16 September 2021:
17 September 2021:

Submission of written contributions/videos

As part of a public consultation to help feed into and guide the discussions, all interested stakeholders, whether adults or children, were encouraged to send written submissions to the Committee before 30 June 2021. Children could also send other forms of submissions, such as video and audio recordings.

Written contributions

NHRI and children's rights commissioners
NGOs and NGO coalitions

Video submissions

The contributors mentioned below have generously provided video submissions. (Note: OHCHR is not responsible for the content of external links.)

* Due to current technical constraints, we are unable to post video files on our website.