The strategic goals of terre des hommes international programme activities have been devised in a two-year dialogue process between terre des hommes members and staff, its project partners and the terre des hommes international youth network.
The strategic goals were adopted by the Delegates Conference (DC) of 4 to 6 October2013 in Bad Honnef, Germany, attended – with equal voting rights – by representatives of the above mentioned groups. terre des hommes Germany will thus make a joint, binding decision with its partners and youth representatives on the policy framework of its international programme activities, i.e. of project cooperation, campaigns, networking, lobbying and advocacy.
The strategic goals will apply until the next DC in 2018. Then there will be an evaluation of the way the strategic goals have been implemented – what has been achieved or perhaps not achieved – and a decision on whether they need to be changed or continued.
terre des hommes supports children and youth, as well as their communities. The general frame of reference is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), with its three categories of right to protection, provision and participation, while all terre des hommes activities shall contribute to a just and peaceful world.
The strategic goals will focus the international programme work of the next five years on certain outcomes within the four ongoing areas of terre des hommes work. These working areas – education and training, health and food, intact environment and protection from violence and exploitation – are derived from the terre des hommes statutes.
In order to achieve the strategic goals by 2018, the Delegates Conference has adopted binding indicators and milestones for the individual goals. terre des hommes will measure itself – and be measured – by them. Every year, the Presidium and Executive Board will make a written report on the implementation of the strategic goals.
To implement the strategic goals, terre des hommes will draw up an operational plan including the related outcome indicators to which personnel and financial resources will be allocated preferentially.
This plan will be put into practice at the regional level, depending on the context, through partner dialogue; it is an important interim step and defines concrete changes to be achieved by terre des hommes and its partners. They will thereby define a yardstick for reviewing how interventions have impacted on children, young people and their life context.
In addition, terre des hommes will document changes relevant to each goal in the context of project campaigns and advocacy that cannot be covered by indicators. The knowledge gained will help tdh to learn and to further develop its own work. The information and insights gained will be compiled in preparation for the next Delegates Conference, evaluated with the participation of all groups involved and will form an important foundation for further orientation of programme activity.
The following four strategic goals name the situation that terre des hommes Germany wishes to achieve with its partners by 2018.
Goal 1: Participation by children and youth
Children and young people have become actors through empowerment, who call for and respect child rights for themselves and others. They actively contribute to shape their surroundings, policies, programmes, projects and the participating organisations in the society they live in.
With its protection, provision and participation rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child offers a suitable framework for effectively improving the situation of children and young people. It is still widespread for children and young people to be not, or only insufficiently, regarded as holders of rights; they are exploited, abused and kept helpless. Children and young people generally do not decide on their own concerns themselves, or do so only with adults; mostly decisions on their interests are taken over their heads. Therefore terre des hommes works not just for the protection and provision rights of children and young people but also highlights the implementation of participation rights.
terre des hommes and its project partners support and accompany children and youth in developing into self-confident personalities and actors and in recognizing and developing their potential, and also in handling and coping with problems and challenges. Children and youth are supported and enabled to stand up for their own rights and the rights of other children and young people, autonomously and together.
The participation of children and youth in society in all concerns important for them is both the way and the goal. The participation should be appropriate to their age and ability as well as according to their cultural environment as far as the latter does not go against their rights realisation. terre des hommes and its partners strive for the implementation of the participation according to the UN-CRC in the life reality of children and young people at all levels, with particular attention to the activities that allow the most vulnerable and marginalised groups of children and youth (disabled, indigenous, girls, children lacking access to communication, etc.) to participate. All this is about a better, broader participation of children and young people in their families, schools, districts and villages, but also in the national and international legislation and in national and international institutions. That also applies to terre des hommes itself, and to its partner organisations, programmes and projects as part of making children and youth participation a model for a better way of life.
Goal 2: Spaces free from violence and exploitation
Children and youth are resilient and have safe, reliable, and sustainable living spaces in which they are free from exploitation and violence.
Children and youth are confronted worldwide with many different forms of exploitation and violence: exploitative child labour, sexual and gender-based violence domestic violence, corporal punishment in schools, gang crime in the neighbourhood, forced recruiting, displacement, xenophobia, racism and discrimination of different kinds, child trafficking, early / child marriage. This list of immediate physical, mental and structural violence can be continued; the different forms are often inter-related. Girls and members of ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable. Exploitation and violence is still occurring and is partly even on the increase, despite international agreements and national laws: these are either inadequate or have not been implemented.
The causes, forms and consequences of exploitation and violence are manifold. What they have in common is that children and youth may be thrown off-track and frequently massively obstructed in their development.
terre des hommes cooperates with many initiatives and organisations that support children and youth affected by violence and exploitation. Its partners strive for protection, prevention and awareness-raising, inform the general public about abuses and urge governments and societies to take their responsibility for the protection of children and youth. It is also important that children, young people and adults learn how to resolve conflicts without violence through effective peace education and peace building strategies for the promotion of a culture of peace. Children and youth need to be effectively trained and empowered to strengthen their resilience to (independently) confront any forms of violence and exploitation in their social environment. Children and youth will be actively involved in guaranteeing child protection in institutions and social structures at all levels (family, school, community etc.).
Children and young people are entitled to a nonviolent upbringing within their families. But also outside their families they need safe places in schools, childcare centres and other places in which they are protected from attacks and harassment. Children and young people need a social setting and conditions – living spaces – in which they are also safe when they leave the especially protected places. With and after extreme experiences of violence and exploitation, children and young people particularly need support to free themselves from the cycle of violence and exploitation. For that they need above all psychosocial and interdisciplinary care and accompaniment, so that they can process their experiences and develop their potentials.
Goal 3: Ecological Child Rights
The necessity of an intact natural environment for the welfare of children is generally recognised. Children, youth and their communities are supported in their efforts to protect and strengthen their natural environment.
Children and youth have the right to an environment in which they can grow up healthy and which – sustained by cultural and biological diversity – enables them to comprehensive developmental opportunities and positive future prospects. That presupposes the preserving of natural resources, forms of cultural, social and economic life adapted to local living conditions, successful adaptation strategies to environmental changes. What should be taken for granted is being called into question by the depredation of natural resources and the progressive environmental and the climate crisis. Children and young people are particularly affected by these developments.
The unbridled exploitation of natural resources impairs the livelihoods and scope for action of many people; the loss of cultural and biologicaldiversity reduces adaptation options and thereby survival chances. These conditions lead to natural and human-induced disasters which claim for more and more victims, particularly among poor population groups who are driven off into risk areas.
Millions of children have access neither to clean drinking water nor to sufficient safe food. Every year four million under-5-year-olds die due to environmentally related diseases.
Environmental awareness and biodiversity are closely linked to traditional knowledge of local cultures and their understanding of nature. The privatisation of community land and commercialisation of commons such as knowledge, seed, forests or water reduces self-sufficiency in meeting basic needs, and thereby the future prospects of all. However, the interests of individuals, lobby groups and national governments still prevent political agreement being reached on comprehensive counter-measures.
What is needed is more political pressure from below and real-life alternatives, ensuring land rights and land use of poor and marginalised communities. A public and political recognition of the rights of children and youth to an intact environment must be reflected in laws and the changed behaviour of governments, corporations and each individual person. Children and youth are themselves agents of change, and can act to protect and strengthen an intact natural environment. This forms an essential element for enabling sustainable development and intergenerational justice in general.
Goal 4: Child rights in international policies
The rights and special needs of children are taken into account in international policy-making.
Child rights should be taken into account in all economic and political decision-making. This is because the local living situation of children is influenced by many different decisions and situations at the international level, which at first sight have nothing to do with them. The lack of binding rules for transnational companies promotes inter alia the perpetuation of starvation wages and life-threatening working conditions. It puts at risk food security, the health and education of the employees’ children and even generates a pull towards child labour. Assessing risks and defining maximum levels for health or the environment the special vulnerability of children mostly goes unnoticed. As a rule, children and youth remain entirely excluded from international decision-making processes.
terre des hommes works in solidarity with children, youth and its partners and understands itself as being part of the global societal actors at work in their countries and worldwide for a transformation of society in the interests of justice, peace and sustainability. terre des hommes supports children, youth and partners in linking them up and raising their voices at the global level. Our specific contribution here is to highlight the violations of child rights and the vulnerability of children in the international policy-making and, if possible, to prevent them.
terre des hommes and its partners have manifold experience and success in local work and at the national level. Together we are linked into national and regional partner platforms. As part of the terre des hommes International Federation (TDHIF) terre des hommes Germany – and thus also its whole partner network – has access and contacts to the UN system and to many different international institutions and alternative fora, which all add up to multiple potentials.
Step by step, terre des hommes and its partners will use this potential to bring its experience of work with and for children into international policy-making. Conversely, also the potential of international agreements and processes are to be better tapped for work at the local level, i.e. made better known and used. Their combined competence in the area of protection from exploitation and violence, an intact environment for children, especially for refugee and migrant children, constitute an outstanding starting situation. The dialogue and codecision model that relates terre des hommes with its partners, children and young people will form a valuable source for this and bring important allies into a coalition of solidarity.