About Us

Independent since the beginning

From 1979 worldwide, from 2005 in Italy

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About Us

Defence for Children International Italia OdV  is an independent organisation, part of the  Defence for Children International movement  based in Geneva, Switzerland.

DCI Italia was founded by Renzo Maffei and Pippo Costella who worked together on a series of social cooperation projects in Italy and worldwide. In 2005, they decided to take on a new global challenge to research and promote socio-educational perspectives and opportunities to reaffirm the  protagonism of young people in youth culture through acknowledgment of their rights. 

Defence for Children Italia operates both autonomously and in cooperation with other associations, movements and institutions to establish a new cultural model for young people to be recognized as citizens entitled to rights and active participation in family, social, cultural and civil life. During the global meeting of the International Social Service (ISS) held in Malta in May 2018, DCI Italia also became an official member of this network, which includes over 120 countries. 

The movement leverages the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as a systemic, comprehensive platform that helps redefine the socio-educational approach towards children and the relationship between adults and young people. Despite its juridical and technical nature, the CRC is a dynamic platform to interact with and change disciplines, mandates and cultural facets. In other words, through its principles and provisions, it is possible to conceive an innovative and more ecological culture not only for young people but for society as a whole. 

Read more about our approach here.

Our movement works towards an equitable world that considers children and adolescents as persons who can fully exercise their human rights.  
Our fundamental principles are:
  • The best interests of the child;
  • The promotion of a human rights-based approach as a conceptual and political framework for advocacy in favor of children’s rights; 
  • The participation of children as one of the basic principles to exercise their citizenship; 
  • Gender equality;
  • The shared responsibility of state, society, community and family as a guiding principle for all interventions; 
  • The promotion of children’s rights at different levels of action: political, social, community, and family and the direct involvement of the child;
  • Systems and organizational modes that reflect statutory principles and are coherent (programmes, fundraising, people management).

Our assembly

DCI Italia intends to develop its association base and its action enabling participation to all those who recognise themselves in the organisation’s charter.

The Defence for Children International Italia General Assembly is currently made up of 36 members.

Assembly Members:


Our Mission

DCI Italia operates autonomously and collaborates with other associations, movements and institutions to establish a rights-based developmental social and cultural model that is child-centered and human-focused.

Daily, we tackle the numerous issues faced by children and adolescents through an approach that acknowledges human rights as central to:

  • Analysis and research, to understand the elements that lead to human rights violations and suggest ways to increase guarantees for children; 
  • Training, to contribute to raising awareness and increasing competencies to adequately support and protect the younger generations;
  • Advocacy, to inform and make young people and adults aware, to report and solicit reforms so that laws and policies promote and protect the rights of children; 
  • Activities, projects, programmes support and development to test good practices and replicate them;
  • Case management and follow-up of individual cross-border cases involving children as Italy;s member of the International Social Service.

By operating through projects with specific aims, DCI Italia acts holistically and systemically in its areas of intervention: Migration, Children and Justice, Human Rights Education, Protection and Wellbeing, taking into consideration cross-cutting themes such as participation, gender equality, context, climate change and a trans-cultural approach. 


Financial Resources

Defence for Children International Italia is a voluntary organization that operates independently on a project basis. Our organization is 80% funded by the European Union and 20% by individual donations. 90% of donations go to co-financing our projects and 10% to supporting our activities.


Contributions from the public administration

Law 124/2017, and subsequently Decree Law April 30, 2019, stipulates that associations, foundations and entities with non-profit status are required to publish on their websites or similar digital portals, by June 30 of each year, information on grants, subsidies, benefits, contributions or aid, whether in cash or in kind, not of a general nature and without consideration, remuneration or compensation, disbursed in the previous fiscal year by public administrations and other public entities.


Contributions Archive:

Contributi 2022  |  Contributi 2021  |  Contributi 2020  |  Contributi 2019  |  Contributi 2018

Financial Reports and Budget:

Bilancio 2022  |  Bilancio 2021Bilancio 2020  |  Bilancio 2019  |  Bilancio 2018  |  Bilancio 2017

DCI Worldwide

Founded in 1979 by Nigel Cantwell and Canon Moerman, Defence for Children International has actively contributed to the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards at a time when children’s issues were not actively considered in human rights analyses and discussions. 

The debate took place on the International Year of the Child and, for the first time, highlighted and provided information on the violation of children’s rights, for example, torture, prostitution, economic exploitation, arbitrary detention, child slavery and trafficking.

Defence for Children International was established to address a wide range of child-centered issues through a human rights-based approach. By becoming a reference point for the ONG coordination group while the CRC was being drafted, Defence for Children International developed important relationships with other organisations. Through these collaborative relationships, DCI has become a crossroads of competencies and capacities. 

Today, the movement comprises 40 sections and associated members. All sections adhere to the mission and principles of the movement but define and implement projects to promote and protect children’s rights according to the needs and priorities of young girls, boys and teenagers in their respective countries, and in addition, initiate international cooperation projects. The national sections are staffed and governed locally and are financially independent from the Secretariat. 

Defence for Children in the World

ISS Worldwide

Since 1924, the International Social Service (ISS) has promoted connections between social services and judicial authorities in different countries to provide support and orient children and their families who, following voluntary or forced migration due to social causes, have been separated or live in poverty or difficult conditions which require cross-border intervention. 

To resolve intercultural and cross-border family conflict, ISS follows a multi-disciplinary approach based on the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Defence for Children Italia, a member of the network since 2018, has many volunteer caseworkers who manage referrals to deliver the ISS mission. Since we do not receive any public or private funding for this activity, we ask organisations interested in the service to contribute to the association’s current account to support case management costs and costs incurred by overseas counterparts.



Defence for Children in the World

Contact Us

Defence for Children International - Italia

Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova 
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6 - 16124 Genova


Tel.010 0899050 Fax 010 0899051
Codice Fiscale 97457060586

Genova Via Bellucci 4-6 mappa
Defence for Children international Italia
Sede legale e sociale: Piazza Don Andrea Gallo 5-6-7 R - 16124 Genova
Sede operativa: Via Bellucci 4-6, 16124 Genova
010 0899050