The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children: A History
The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GI) was launched in 2001. It worked to end corporal punishment, advocating for full and comprehensive law reform to prohibit violent discipline, raising awareness about the issue, and monitoring law reform and other developments worldwide.
Since 2001, because of the efforts of many individuals and organisations including the Global Initiative, there has been a sea-change in attitudes towards children’s right to protection from all forms of violence, including from corporal punishment in the home, and a dramatic increase in the number of countries which have either prohibited all corporal punishment of children or are committed to doing so.
From 2020, the work of the Global Initiative was taken forward by the End Violence Partnership under the name End Corporal Punishment, and from September 2023 the World Health Organization in collaboration with a multi-partner Steering Committee became the new host for End Corporal Punishment. This support has allowed for the continuation of essential advocacy to ensure all children are protected from violent discipline and strengthen connections and approaches with work to end other forms of violence.
The achievements and approach of the Global Initiative
The Global Initiative pioneered a new and systematic approach to advocating for children’s rights:
- Mapping and reporting on legality and progress towards legal reform – producing detailed country reports for every state and territory worldwide; global and regional tables of progress and legal opportunities; documenting supreme court rulings; collating records of states’ public commitments to prohibition.
- Engaging systematically with UN and Human Rights bodies – supporting the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children in 2006; submitting hundreds of briefings to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and many other treaty bodies; monitoring and analysing recommendations and coverage of the issue in examinations and official documents.
- Advocacy to address the obligation to prohibit corporal punishment in different contexts - the rights of the girl child, the right to education, the rights of very young children, the rights of people with disabilities, children’s rights in juvenile justice, children’s rights in alternative care and day care settings and the right to health.
- Advocacy in relation to faith communities and collaboration with the Churches’ Network for Non-violence
- Provision of technical support to governments whenever requested, and strong involvement with inter-governmental organisations – including the Council of Europe, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Commonwealth of Nations, the European Union, CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and the Council of Baltic Sea States.
- Encouraging legal action to challenge corporal punishment - in 2013 submitting seven collective complaints to the ECSR, against France, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Belgium, citing their failure to enact legislation prohibiting corporal punishment despite undertakings to do so.
- Law reform workshops – holding numerous law reform workshops in all regions, mostly in collaboration with Save the Children Sweden. Participants were supported to develop national action plans for the prohibition and elimination of corporal punishment.
In 2015, an independent evaluation of the Global Initiative was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, with support from the Oak Foundation. It was carried out by Carol Bower, an independent children’s rights consultant based in South Africa.
You can find out more about the origins, approach and achievements of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children from 2001-2015 in this report.
During the evaluation many people were interviewed about the approach and impact of the Global Initiative. Below is just a small selection of the testimonials:
"Every word written and said by GI embodies the principles of children as rights holders; they are an inspiration to all of us."
Margaret Tuite, EU Commission Coordinator for the Rights of the Child
"[GI materials are] really useful and we know we can rely on them and the GI has really helped put the issue on the global agenda. GI briefings and submissions to the UNCROC allow us to make decisions based on clear and confirmed facts and are invaluable in our examination of State Parties."
Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson (2015), UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
"Our institution also used the materials available on the web-page of GI to convince our government to ban corporal punishment in Estonia. Also the GI put some pressure on the government with their questions about the matter. And we were sucessful. A law was passed in Estonia in Dec 2014 which will enter into force on 1.01.2016 that bans all corporal punishment in all settings."
Andres Aru, Child Rights Department, Office of the Chancellor of Justice, Estonia
“It was important to have the support of GI who know so much and could convince local stakeholders to support and advocate for prohibition. This has had a big impact in Latin America.”
Milena Grillo, Executive Director, Paniamor Foundation, Costa Rica
Continuing the Global Initiative's work
As End Corporal Punishment we are proud to continue the ground-breaking work of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children – working for universal prohibition of corporal punishment, and a world where no child experiences violent punishment, or any other form of violence, abuse or mistreatment.