Working concepts

‘Child protection’ is commonly understood to refer to the protection of children from all forms of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect, in the home, in institutions and in the context of formal or informal procedures. Some countries use a different terminology to refer to this concept, such as ‘child welfare’, or consider child protection to be integrated into ‘social welfare’ or ‘social affairs’.

There is no unified international definition yet of a ‘national child protection system’.

UNICEF defines a child protection system as “the set of laws, policies, regulations and services needed across all social sectors – especially social welfare, education, health, security and justice – to support prevention and response to protection-related risks. These systems are part of social protection, and extend beyond it. At the level of prevention, their aim includes supporting and strengthening families to reduce social exclusion, and to lower the risk of separation, violence and exploitation. Responsibilities are often spread across government agencies, with services delivered by local authorities, non-Sate providers, and community groups, making coordination between sectors and levels, including routine referral systems, a necessary component of effective child protection systems.” (Please see: United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNICEF Child Protection Strategy, E/ICEF/2008/5/Rev.1, 20 May 2008, available at: (accessed December 2012), par. 12-13)

Considering that all the human rights of the child are inter-related and indivisible, the child’s right to protection is directly related to the rights of the child in all other areas, i.e. social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights.

In consequence, IMPACT builds on the assumption that a ‘national child protection system’ can only function effectively when it is understood as an integral part of a broader system for the implementation of the Convention. 

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