Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty

In October 2016, EIUC Secretary General Manfred Nowak was appointed as Independent Expert leading the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, which had been commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General upon invitation by the General Assembly in its Resolution 69/157 of 18 December 2014.

The Global Study will build upon the experiences from two previous UN Studies on children: The report of Graça Machel on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children as well as the United Nations Study on Violence against Children, led by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, which provide us with a good blueprint for undertaking the Global Study. The Global Study will be carried out in close cooperation with Governments, UN agencies and actors, including OHCHR, UNICEF, UNODC, UNHCR, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as civil society organizations and academia. The process will include thematic, national and regional consultations, which will take into account views from around the world. The input of all stakeholders is essential for the Global Study to provide sound evidence and recommendations to support the Member States in their efforts to prevent children’s deprivation of liberty and safeguard the rights of children deprived of liberty.

Objectives and key focus areas



The main objectives of the Global Study will be:

  1. To assess the magnitude of this phenomenon, including the number of children deprived of liberty (disaggregated by age, gender and nationality), as well as the reasons invoked, the root-causes, type and length of deprivation of liberty and places of detention;
  2. To document good practices and experiences and to capture the views and experiences of children to inform the Global Study’s recommendations;
  3. To raise awareness and promote a change in stigmatizing attitudes and behaviour towards children at risk of arrest or detention as well as children who are deprived of liberty;
  4. To provide recommendations for law, policy and practice to safeguard the rights of children concerned, and prevent the detention of children and significantly reduce the number of children deprived of liberty through effective non-custodial alternatives guided by the best interests of the child.

Key focus areas

The key focus areas of the Global Study will be the deprivation of liberty of:

  1. Children deprived of liberty within the administration of justice
  2. Children deprived of liberty for migration-related reasons
  3. Children living in places of detention with their parents
  4. Children deprived of liberty in institutions
  5. Children deprived of liberty in the context of armed conflict
  6. Children deprived of liberty on national security grounds

The Global Campus network of more than 100 universities is ideal in providing academic input into research, data gathering and dissemination related to the Global Study:

  • In addition to the input from several universities, master students from the different regional programmes are invited to devote their theses to country-specific aspects of the phenomenon of children deprived of liberty.
  • In March 2017, the Global Campus hosted a high-level expert meeting on the methodology of the Global Study, which also finalised the questionnaire to be sent by the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights to all states and other relevant stakeholders.
  • In addition, a small research team at the Global Campus is supporting Manfred Nowak in various ways. In particular, they prepared the chapter on children in places of detention with their parents.In March 2019, the Global Campus hosted again a high-level expert meeting with a view to collect final inputs, feedback and recommendations.
  • In late 2019, the Global Campus will also offer a free MOOC that gives the unique opportunity to learn behind the scenes and to hear from the experts who conducted the research, including through interviews with children. Special case studies identify cross-regional and cross-cutting issues such as personal liberty, health, gender, disability and children’s participation.


+ link to OHCHR website (

+ link NGO panel website (

+ link to expert meeting in March 2017 (