About us


Defence for Children International (DCI) is an international human rights organization that has been promoting and protecting children's rights for 30 years.

DCI is represented in over 40 countries worldwide through its national sections and associated members, each working on child rights issues that are relevant to their national contexts, ranging from juvenile justice, putting a stop to child labour, child trafficking and violence against children to promoting child participation in society.

DCI's International Secretariat, located in Geneva, is the focal point of the organization. It represents DCI's mission at international level and develops projects which promote child rights globally and which support the activities and growth of DCI's national sections and associated members.


Defence for Children International is dedicated to ensuring on-going, practical, systematic and concerted international action directed to-wards promoting and protecting the rights of the child, as articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), its optional protocols, and all the other human rights instruments.


Children should enjoy and exercise their rights in a just and responsible society.

In Italy

map dci italia updatedThe idea of establishing the italian section of Defence for Children International dates back 2005 when a group of people, with various qualifications and of different ages, working in the field of international cooperation and human rights decided to create an independent, voluntary organization in the framework of a global movement based on the CRCís principles and vision.

The intention was to set up an open organization which would be able to promote childrens' rights without fear of openly analysing and denouncing violations, whilst also proposing innovative ways for understanding the problems and identifying solutions.

Defence for Children International Italy (DCI Italy) is officially registered and started its activities in March 2007.

It became a DCI section in 2008 during the 10th International General Assembly of DCI held in Brussels.

Its offices are located in Genoa and Rome (registered office).

It can count on a Coordination Team and a number of volunteers and consultants.

Its General Assembly is composed by 12 people with different expertise in the field of human rights, international cooperation, social activism and militancy.

DCI Italy, in connection with its International network and the DCI Secretariat, focuses its actions on activities concerning juvenile justice, children in conflict with the law and migration.

Defence for Children Italy is willing to develop its governance body and its actions through the participation of everyone who identifies with the organizationís mission and its statute.

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Our team

The Italian section of Defence for Children International is coordinated by:

- Pippo Costella -

He has worked on development programs on childhood and adolescence with various NGOs, international agencies and institutions in the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe. His experience is characterized by the development of strategies and programs to protect children from various forms of exploitation and abuse, programs and initiatives targeted at children in conflict and emergency zones and the psycho-social dimension and the promotion of human rights through migration phenomenon. From 2004 to 2008, He was an active member of the Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings of the European Commission. He is currently collaborating, as an independent expert, with different public/private italian organisations at national and at international level. He is founder and currently director of Defence for Children International Italy.

- Gabriella Gallizia -

She has worked in the commercial and administrative sectors of various Italian companies. Later, she was office manager at "Save The Children Italy" until the early years of the italian section' setting up. She has actively participated in the foundation of the Italian section of Defence for Children International since March 2009. She is actually in charge of the coordination and development of the activities of the section.

Distinctive features


The movement was founded in July 1979 by Nigel Cantwell and Canon Moerman, the chair of the International Year of the Child, at a time when children's rights were not the main focus of many organizations.

The International Year of the Child instigated the dissemination of an unprecedented amount of information about children's rights violations such as torture, prostitution, economic exploitation, arbitrary detention, and trafficking and sale.

At the time, few international structures were dedicated to a human rights-based approach to the many problems faced by the world's children. Defence for Children International was established in direct response to this gap.

Defence for Children mobilized the NGO community to become actively involved in the drafting process of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The resulting NGO "Ad Hoc Group", established in mid-1983, made significant contributions to the Convention's final text.

In 1987, the NGO Ad Hoc Group joined UNICEF in publicly promoting the objective of having the Convention ready for adoption by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1989.

Following the unanimous adoption of the Convention by the General Assembly on 20 November 1989, Defence for Children national sections successfully lobbied their governments to ratify the new Convention.

Defence for Children International sections were often the first to take the initiative of producing an NGO Alternative Report for the Committee on the Rights of Child, or to initiate national coalitions.

Through DCI's major role in co-ordinating NGO input to this drafting process, it developed substantial links with other NGOs and established itself as a centre of expertise and resources.

DCI has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Council of Europe, and working relations with UNESCO, UNICEF and the ILO.


It is a global movement present in over 40 national sections that represent 5 continents.

The sections are coordinated at an international level but they are independent and locally governed.

Its activities are systematic and organized, and aimed at changing the causes of rights violations.

It is not afraid to speak out against violations and those who are to blame.

It is a non-religious and independent associative movement, open and accessible to the participation of everybody who shares its mission.

It exercises its influence on the United Nations through a Coordination Secretariat in Geneva and a seat of representation in New York.

It promotes its development through different ways of communication, fundraising, and partnerships that are in-line with the fundamental principles of the organization.

Our vision

Principles in the background of our actions:

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  • The "Best interests of the child"
  • Children's rights are Human Rights
  • Promotion of a Human Rights approach as a political and conceptual framework to advocate for the rights of children and adolescents
  • The participation of children and adolescents as one of the basic principles for them to fully exercise their citizenship
  • Gender equality
  • The co-responsibility of the state, society, the community and the family as a guiding principle in all of its interventions The rights of children and adolescents should be promoted at different levels of action: Political, social, community and family-based and with the direct involvement of children and adolescents.
  • Systems and organizational methods (planning, fundraising, staff management, etc.)reflect and respect the Vision, Mission and Principles of the Organization and should be implemented consistently at all levels.


Our approach:

The approach adopted in every project consists in taking into account the relationships between the child's needs through their environment and the responses of the multiples instances of protection of the children rights.

The set of variables identified to raise this relationship refers to the four main areas of protection of children's rights enshrined in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989) and the General Comment no.6: survival, protection, development and participation. 

The reference to these keys areas of the life of the child is taken to identify the technical quality of the response by focusing on the detection of their specific needs: to each of these needs correspond a right positively enshrined that State are committed not only to protect but also to promote through all the necessary measures (economical, social, normative...) in the short, medium and long term. This approach, as to be understood as ensuring an attention to the best interest of the child as the preeminent response of the many categories involved in project analysis to determine the adequacy of the response of the "system" to the children's needs and rights.

                                               approach dci T07-2456126 alle 14.18.48

SURVIVAL - articles 23 - 27 Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) -

In this area are taken into account all needs concerning the primary biological needs related to personal development, such as availability of food, shelter, medical care. Particular attention will be devoted to special needs resulting from special situations of vulnerability such as disability, having suffered violence and abuse, specific traumatic situations.

Keywords: Health care - Health conditions - Screening - Detection of specifics issues - Specialist intervention - Diagnostic and curative competencies and instruments.

DEVELOPMENT - articles 27 - 31 CRC -

In this area are taken into account all needs related to cognitive, emotional, social and cultural Development of the person. In this category are included: educative and formative needs, cultural mediation/valorisation of the cultural and religious identity needs, social relations and recreational needs, more precisely the related need to the right to share with their peers cultural, artisitc and games activities.

Keywords: School - Work - Game - Project Life - Cultural identity - Personal baggage - Respect - Valorisation.

PROTECTION - articles 19 - 22 and articles 32 - 37

In this area are taken into account actual and potential needs derived of the particular vulnerability of a person in the first stage of life, understood as proportionally depending of the evolving capacities of each individual. The notion of protection also includes levels of prevention, rehabilitation and of empowerment. In particular, special attention is paid to the current or potentially phenomenon related to inhuman or degrading treatment, negligence, abusive detenion, physical/mental abuses, violence, traffic, sexual and labour exploitation.

Keywords: Secular place - identification - comprehension - profiency -listening - cultural mediation - operators competencies - Guardianship - family - group of peers.

PARTICIPATION - articles 12 - 12 CRC

In this area are taken into account all those needs related to the possibility to exercise its own competencies to determine its contingent conditions and future. In this category, are included all prerogative related to the exercise of rights and duties, conditions related to status and citizenship, the possibility to access to relevant, comprehensive, differed informations and to express opinions which are taken into consideration. In the scope of protection, is considered the vulnerability; the scope of participation considers the competence that will be recognised and made possible from the consideration of the evolutive capacity related to age group and cultural differences.

Keywords: Residence permit - legal assistance - cultural and linguistic mediation - rights - orientation - operators competencies.

What we do


big-1890 3 Jacquot-de-NantesIn the world human rights of the child are systematically violated.

War, conditions of poverty, phenomena of exploitation - all products of the interests of an adult world, uncaring of consequences - expose their devasting impact on the youngest generation. Despite everything that takes place under our eyes, the responses to these problems are in many cases limited to actions of benefaction that do not produce any significant changes.

Defence for Children International promotes, for and with children, a different world able to consider the consequences of oneís own actions; investigate and denounce the reasons and responsibilities leading to the negation of the rights of the child; realize action campaigns in order to change the causes and factors leading to rights violations.

Defence for Children International operates in the world for and with children, carrying out initiatives of protection and promotion of rights in relation to the following problems: juvenile justice, child labour exploitation, participation and citizenship of children, formal and non-formal education, and children involved in armed conflicts.


Defence for Children Italy works, for and with children, by focussing its activities in the national context and concentrates its activities in organizing projects which promote action on priority issues.

Each project is defined according our approach and by a period of time in which to meet clear objectives via a mix of activities and initiatives together.


  • Juvenile Justice
  • Migration
  • Children on the move: protection from Violence, Exploitation and Trafficking
  • Consumerism and Media Education
  • Education to Human Rights and Children Rights



  • Analysis and research: to understand which are the elements that determine the violation of the human rights of the child.
  • Information, sensitization, training: to create awareness, understanding and skills.
  • Denounce violations: in order to immediately put a stop to abuse and take on the responsibilities for a change.
  • Promotion of proposals: to orient policies, laws and strategies.
  • The development of pilot projects: for the identification of good practices that can be replicated.

Juvenile Justice-eng

One of the main areas of intervention of Defence for Children International has always been Juvenile justice.

DCI approach on Juvenile Justice:

Indeed, internationally, Defence for Children International has participated actively in the drafting of important international instruments on juvenile justice. In addition to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Defence for Children International has collaborated to write the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules, 1985) Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines, 1990) and Rules for the protection of young people deprived of their liberty, (Havana Rules, 1990).
legendeguerreboutons Guerre_des_boutons"La guerre des boutons", film of Y.Robert

DCI ITALY approach on Juvenile Justice:

Defence for Children International Italy has undertaken, since its origin, research on the national context about juvenile justice. More precisely, about detention facilities but also on alternatives to detention, about prevention and the ways to escape from the justice system.
Juvenile Justice context in Italy:
From a legislative point of view, Italy is one of the greatest examples of implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and gives rise to a system that protects the right of the child to grow up and develop its personality and talents in order to be prepare for an active life as an adult.
In this sense, the offence is regarded as primarily an expression of discomfort, difficulty in psycho-physical development, which are then a point of departure for an educational project. On paper, the principle of best interests of the child (art. 2 CRC) turns out to be the base of the Italian juvenile justice system.

Today, however, the juvenile justice system in Itlay seems to have lost much of its effectiveness, since the child population involved has completely changed: a law designed for Italian minors is now applied in most cases to foreign minors, often unaccompanied and undocumented. Consequently, in many cases, the law is unenforceable, especially as regards the practical implementation of alternative measures to prison.

Today, in Italy, the number of children reported to the foreign attorney is around 30%, while the number of foreigners detained in Juvenile Penal Institutions reaches 45%.

This gap shows how the principle of the use of imprisoment as a last resort, contained in the Beijing Rules on Juvenile Justice and fundamental pillar of the Italian law, is now ignored in practice, in respect of this particular category of minors.
Furthermore, the majority of Italian and foreign children detained in IPM are awaiting initial judgment: the prison is then used in most cases as a precautionary measure, as opposed to the CRC which considers detention only as last resort.
While public discussion remains around lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility and tightening of sanctions, prevention policies are often overlooked and funding in this sense does not reduce it.
In many cases, the children involved in the criminal justice system are repeat offenders because after criminal proceedings, the coming back to the real world is rarely accompanied by valid reintegration projects.

Defence for Children International Italy fits into this context, with the aims to increase knowledge of this phenomena and to defend the rights of the children.

DCI Actions on Juvenile Justice:

The main objective of the International Program on Juvenile Justice of Defence for Children International is to make globally public the situation of children who are in conflict with the law and to promote actions to ensure that juvenile justice is considered as a priority in political agendas at international, regional and local level with the aim of strengthening national systems and thereby ensure the rights of children and adolescents who are in conflict with the law.

The actions taken to defend the rights of these children take various forms:

  • advocacy and political pressure
  • direct interventions
  • monitoring
  • information sharing and collaboration among the various actors working in this area
  • analysis and research

Consumerism and media

Consumerism and Media Education
Marketing and the right to childhood 

In the world:

The national and international statistics show that young people have recently acquired a significant decision-making power not only as regards the purchase of goods they might benefit directly, but also in relation to typical purchases of the family. This is due in large part to children's television exposure, as the main source of knowledge and place of formation of the child, as a consumer.

The consumerism culture has become an integral part of childhood, adolescence and youth around the world in general. Children and adolescents in this context are constituted as the main target of many national and multinational companies in the sectors of entertainment, fashion, food...

A growing interest in the international literature on the issues of consumption has lead to question what may be the consequences of an increasingly aggressive and pervasive marketing on young people.

Consumption has become a core value in the lives of young people and advertising and marketing do not only influence the purchasing decisions but also their attitudes and behavior. Several studies in Europe have highlighted some issues related to the influence of marketing messages on behavior displayed by adolescents, such as, the increasing rate of obesity and eating disorders, sexuality increasingly early exhibited, an increasing rate of violence, a decline of the critical and creative skills of children, anxiety and malaise.

In Italy:

In Italy, it seems that, in relation to these issues , the public and institutions are reacting by a kind of passivity and resigned acceptance to the invasion and omnipresence of the market.

Defence for Children International Italy believes it is urgent to take steps to understand what are the relationship with the youth market/consumption and young people; and to ask whether the growing presence of children and adolescents in the market as consumers, actually corresponds to an increase of their ability in managing the challenges and opportunities the market offers.

The general objective of the programme of Defence for Children Italy is to help protect children's right to a fair, non-invasive advertising in line with national standards and the CRC, through consumer awareness and a critical approach to media and to advertising messages directed to them.

To this end, Defence for Children Italy intends to:

  • conduct a research among young Italian generations to understand the magnitude of the phenomenon and cognitive and emotional perception of advertising
  • promote among children a conscious approach to the media and in particular to advertising messages directed to them
  • raise awareness of families, teachers and educators
  • stimulate a debate in civil society about the influence of marketing choices and behaviors on youth


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  • Capire
  • Dire
  • Agire
Fondata durante l’Anno Internazionale del Fanciullo (luglio 1979) da Nigel Cantwell e Canon Moerman, Defence for Children International ha contribuito attivamente al processo di stesura della Convenzione sui Diritti del Fanciullo delle Nazioni Unite Read More

I diritti umani delle bambine e dei bambini vengono sistematicamente violati. Un mondo adulto incurante delle conseguenze produce guerra, povertà, esclusione sociale, distruzione dell'ambiente imponendo così alle più giovani generazioni il proprio devastante impatto. Non è più possibile limitarsi a constatare queste gravi situazioni e rispondere ad esse con semplici azioni di beneficenza.
E' necessario capire e interrogare in modo approfondito le ragioni, le cause e le responsabilità che determinano queste violazioni per identificare soluzioni capaci di prevenirle e istituire appropriate risposte.

Molti sono coloro che dichiarano genericamente la propria solidarietà e la propria indignazione per le gravi condizioni che coinvolgono l'infanzia nel mondo. Pochi sono coloro che hanno il coraggio di parlare apertamente.
E' necessario aumentare la capacità di identificazione e di denuncia delle condizioni che rendono i bambini più vulnerabili.

E' certamente importante tradurre in azioni concrete la nostra solidarietà con le generazioni più giovani. In molti casi però questo attivismo non è collegato ad una comprensione reale della situazione delle persone a cui si rivolge e proprio per questo le risposte sono estemporanee e non durano nel tempo. Ogni azione per l’infanzia deve realizzarsi a partire da una comprensione precisa  del contesto nel quale viene realizzata e riaffermare attraverso la sua realizzazione una logica fondata sui diritti.

2013 | ® Defence for Children International Italia

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