The Possibility of a World Without Orphanages

History was made on the 18th December 2019 as all 193 member states of the United Nations formally recognised that orphanages do not protect children, they harm them, and have together called for the progressive end of institutional care globally.

On this momentous day, the UN General Assembly agreed and adopted a Resolution on the Rights of The Child that calls for an end to the institutional care of children across the world. This resolution calls for a radical change and declares that it is now time for orphanages to be phased out on a global scale and for new family-based solutions to be put in place.

Working together, a global coalition of 256 organisations, networks, and agencies proposed a set of Key Recommendations to be included in the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution on the Rights of the Child to address key challenges and opportunities in implementing the rights of children without parental care.

This resolution is made up of many recommendations and is a big turning point to what we believe are out-dated ways, systems and institutions that do not support children without parental care in today’s modern society. Whilst the resolution details many of the child’s rights, it also goes on to expressly highlight the preventable separation of children from their families due to a range of situations and issues including poverty or “lack of resources”.

One of the messages that was communicated by all UN state members was that it was their aim to address and focus on the root causes in order to help prevent unnecessary separation of children from their families, in many cases unlawfully. Whilst encouraging UN state members to work alongside to help strengthen families by providing them with additional support such as family and community based care, in order to help reunify families where possible.

The resolution also focuses on child welfare and protection structures where it calls for improvements to be made at all levels. Concerns were also raised surrounding the children of migrants who are often separated or unaccompanied from their primary caregivers or parents. With these numbers growing, and further children are at risk to be without parental care, systems and processes that are currently in place need to be improved upon, among other recommendations and suggestions. The resolution aims to protect all children by urging states to strengthen systems that are currently in place, by providing alternative care plans and making changes where needed that will always be in the child’s best interest.

The resolution also calls for action to be taken against trafficking, which includes the exploitation of children in care facilities, including orphanages and tourism. The rights of children with disabilities are also a focal point, with their quality of life and family life under review, as these children are often more at risk to be placed in institutional settings.

The resolution which has been formally adopted by the UN General Assembly is ground breaking, it shows us that there can be  a world without orphanages, a world where we can make change for the good, a world where we can create a better tomorrow today and, most importantly, where all children can grow up in a safe and loving family.

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