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Guiding principles (Part 4)

Non-discrimination and non-refoulement.
A teenage girl is singlet and shorts is standing on the beach facing the water with five younger children standing around her playing.

Continuing with the theme of guiding principles we should consider the following in our work with children:


We must ensure that children are not discriminated against, stigmatised, treated poorly or denied services because of their individual characteristics, or their migration status. This includes preventing discrimination against children because of their gender, age, nationality, socio-economic background, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. This principle of non-discrimination means children who move from one country to another are entitled to exercise all the rights guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child in a country of which they are not a national.

This means that unaccompanied and separated children, who may be in a country and culture that is not their own, should always receive support from us that is respectful, non-judgemental, and non-discriminatory. We should treat children with compassion, dignity, and care.


States should respect the rights of children guaranteed by international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, including the principle of non-refoulement. The principle of non-refoulement is the cornerstone of the international protection of refugees and asylum seekers. Article 33 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees prohibits the expulsion or return of a refugee, including unaccompanied and separated children, to a country ‘where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’. There are certain exceptions which should be interpreted in a limited and restrictive manner. To understand more about this principle please take a closer look at the Convention.

The ‘See Also’ section below has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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