History of CRIN
The preparatory phase of CRIN dates back to 1991, before the Committee on the Rights of the Child ever convened its first session. At this time experts from child rights organisations – including UNICEF Geneva Regional Office, UNICEF New York, Defence for Children International (DCI), and Save the Children Sweden – were already asking what would happen with information generated through the reporting process of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The group muddled over questions including: 'What would happen with the information?', and 'What would be the documentation handling process?' The group met on numerous occasions and visited the OHCHR Documentation Centre to see how the documentation system was organised (at that time Microfiche was used), and UNICEF Geneva's information resource section.
To its present day, the development of CRIN has seen a move from Geneva to London; and a move from an informal Facilitating Group (which consisted of a group of international NGOs with UNICEF) to a formally structured management team. It is now a viable information network that includes over 1,200 organisations.
Geneva years: CRIN is an informal secretariat based at DCI
The first phase of CRIN dates from 1991 until July 1995, when an informal secretariat conducted work on behalf of a 'child rights information network'. The secretariat consisted of Save the Children Sweden and DCI, and was hosted by DCI in Geneva. The two organisations moved CRIN from concept to reality. Their work included all preparations, fundraising and administration, as well securing the support from key actors that would later help establish CRIN in July 1995.
In 1992, following the international workshop on ‘NGO Information Systems and Children’s Rights’, a group of international NGOs with UNICEF continued to meet informally to develop and establish CRIN. This group became known as the Facilitating Group.
A follow-up meeting in 1993 also addressed the specific question of how to meet the specific information needs of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
London: Save the Children UK hosts CRIN
In January of 1995, Save the Children UK became the host organisation. The Facilitating Group appointed a co-ordinator (Ms. Becky Purbrick) to develop a network proposal that would be discussed six months later at the International Children’s Centre in Paris. Work focused on research into potential structure, membership and activities. The international meeting was held in July 1995 and attended by 60 participants who represented decision and policy makers as well as information workers. This was a deliberate decision to engage primary information users who could assess the potential use of a network and who could harness organisational commitment. It became apparent that needs were broad and far-reaching.
In Paris, participants agreed to support the development of an informal, open and free network, with an expanded Facilitating Group to steer the work, and a small co-ordinating unit hosted by an international organisation (then and currently at Save the Children UK). Ms. Purbrick stayed on as Coordinator. CRIN's work was guided by five priority projects agreed to in Paris. The Co-ordinator achieved considerable progress including the development of the role and structure of the Facilitating Group.
In 1992, a group of international NGOs with UNICEF continued to meet informally to develop and establish CRIN. This group became known as the Facilitating Group. Initially it included:
- Defence for Children International - International Secretariat,
- International Centre for Childhood and the Family,
- International Save the Children Alliance,
- NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights,
- Save the Children Sweden,
- Save the Children UK,
- UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre,
In July 1995, the Facilitating Group was expanded to include southern organisations:
- African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect,
- Arab Resource Collective,
- Concerned for Working Children,
- Instituto Interamericano del Niños.
The CRIN Management Team
A small management team was set up in April 1997 to support CRIN's co-ordinating unit and to help develop the network. The management team includes UNICEF, Save the Children Sweden, the Arab Resource Collective and - as the host organisation - Save the Children UK. These organisations have played key roles in the continued development of CRIN since inception.
Box 1: A history of CRIN
- An information secretariat in Geneva conducts work on behalf of a ‘child rights information network’ (led by Save the Children Sweden and Defence for Children International).
- Information requirements of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child were examined and addressed.
- The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) is formally established.
- Information-handling capacities of child rights organisations were mapped (led by Human Rights Internet).
- A directory of research on the Convention was published (led by Childwatch International, UNESCO, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre).
- A full text database on information on the Convention was developed (led by UNICEF Geneva). This database was handed over to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and is now the Treaty Bodies Database.
- CRIN Newsletter first published.
- CRIN publishes first edition of the Directory of Child Rights Organisations.
- CRINMAIL email list service initiated.
- CRIN website is launched.
- First evaluation of CRIN.
- NGO alternative reports submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child were made public on the Internet in 1998 (NGO Group for the CRC).
- Common and internationally recognised concepts in child rights were established and thesauri of child rights terminology in English, French and Spanish were published in 2000 alongside a glossary and bibliography (led by UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre).
- Newsletter on Special Session on Children, daily coverage of PrepComs
- May 2002 Special Session news coverage, with daily updates in English, French and Spanish. Working Paper published
- Working Paper series launched with the publication of “The United Nations Special Session on Children: Time for Action”
- Publication of Members’ Directory
- Newsletter on Children and the Private Sector
- Start of Rights–based programming project