Child Rights Connect is a registered Swiss association. Its organs are the General Assembly, the Executive Committee, the International Secretariat and the Working Groups.

International Secretariat

Child Rights Connect’s International Secretariat is a multi-disciplinary team, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It carries out the network’s day-to-day activities, providing a solid and expert base for everything that the network undertakes.

Alex ConteExecutive Director
Alex believes that realizing the rights and potential of every child is essential not only in itself but also for the sustainable future of communities and nations and the achievement of a prosperous and fair global society. Alex has over 20 years’ experience as a human rights lawyer and advocate, having worked as a criminal law barrister, with international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, and in academia as a professor of international law and human rights. He joined Child Rights Connect in July 2019 .
Ilaria PaolazziDeputy Director
Ilaria’s passion about children’s rights started while, during her studies, she worked as social educator with children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Italy. Graduated with a MSc in Human Rights and International Cooperation from Bologna University (Italy), she joined Child Rights Connect in 2013. Prior to that, she worked for several other human rights organisations, including the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Danish Institute Against Torture, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, as well as the Italian decentralised cooperation. Ilaria has over 10 years’ experience in advocacy, research, programme development, networking and capacity building. She is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish.
Fanny Cachat - van der HaertProgramme Manager
Fanny joined Child Rights Connect in early 2020, driven by her passion for children’s rights. She brings over 14 years’ experience in programme management, monitoring, evaluation and learning, resource mobilisation and organisational strengthening as part of international NGOs in the field of human rights, including more than four years in the Global South (Burundi, Rwanda, and Nepal). She graduated with a Master in International Relations and Development and a Master in Political Sciences from Sciences Po Bordeaux, France, and holds a BA in International Relations and Political Sciences from the Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy. Fanny has been specifically trained in results-based management. She is fluent in English, French and Italian.
Agnès Gràcia CorberóSenior Global Advocacy Officer
Agnès is the Child Rights Connect focal point for the UN Human Rights Council and Programme Officer for the Latin-America, Africa and Middle East and North Africa regions.

She is an international human rights lawyer who is specialised in children’s rights. Her commitment to children’s rights is personal as well as professional, as she has been part of different children and youth-led organisations throughout her life. Before joining Child Rights Connect in May 2019, she worked for the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions advocating for network members and advising them on how best to engage with the UN human rights system. Agnès has also worked on children’s rights-related projects for the International Commission of Jurists, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, among other national and international human rights organisations. Agnès holds a Law Degree from the University Pompeu Fabra and an Interuniversity Master’s Degree in International Diplomacy and International Public Service. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Catalan.

Fanny ChappuisProgramme Officer
Fanny is driven by her optimism and strong desire to contribute to improving people’s lives. That’s why she dedicates her education path and career to bringing a wide range of operational and technical supports to human-size organizations. In continuation to her Master in Development Economics and International Project Management, Fanny conducted a few missions with NGOs dedicated to children’s rights and peace education. After an inspirational 3-year experience working in mediation and conflict resolution in the corporate sector, she decided to further engage in the implementation of children’s rights and joined Child Rights Connect in March 2017 as Programme Assistant. Fanny particularly enjoys being in contact with dedicated children’s rights defenders from all over the world!
Leire Ibañez LarreaNetwork and Programme Officer
Leire is a human rights lawyer with experience in the UN human rights system. Leire has been dedicated to human rights since the beginning of her career, starting as an intern in the Treaty Body Division of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She continued her career as a lawyer in a Migration Law Firm in Spain, providing them legal advice on illegal labour conditions and gender violence. Pursuing her desire to work in the human rights area, she gained experience at the OMCT and IRCT in Geneva where she advocated for victims of torture at the Universal Periodic Review, assisted in coordinating Civil Society engagement with the Committee Against Torture as well as in carrying out research on grave human rights violations. She is fluent in English, French and Spanish.
Zsuzsanna RutaiChild Empowerment and Safeguarding Officer
Zsuzsanna found her calling at university: after concluding her internships, she launched a children’s rights organisation at the age of 23. After a few years at the civil sector, she joined the Secretariat of the Ombudsman for Minority Rights in Hungary where she focused on investigations and complaints related to children’s rights and education. As a seconded official, Zsuzsanna worked at the Children’s Rights Division of the Council of Europe and supported the work of the Lanzarote Committee. Before joining Child Rights Connect in February 2023, she had been working as an independent consultant on children’s rights, child participation and minority rights protection with international and non-governmental organisations. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest) and Master of Laws on Human Rights from the Central European University (Vienna). She conducted her PhD research on child participation in the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (at Eotvos Lorand University). She is the author of several articles and reports and co-author of the Council of Europe publication “Compasito – Manual on Human Rights Education for Children”.

Five year Strategic Plan 2020-2024

External evaluations of our work

With the support of our core donors, particularly the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), we regularly conduct external evaluations of our work, which assess the relevance, coherence, efficiency and effectiveness of our actions as well as the sustained impact of the results attained towards the realisation of children’s rights. The evaluations fulfill a strong learning objective as recommendations help to inform our current and future work.

“From small beginnings Child Rights Connect has become a highly respected organisation – as one interviewee noted ‘if Child Rights Connect did not exist, it would have to be invented’. The focus on the Human Rights Council as well as the CRC Committee has the potential to lead to a long-term positive impact on children’s rights…”

– Evaluation of the work of Child Rights Connect, 2015

“Without Child Rights Connect’s presence, the global civil society’s advocacy and influence on children’s rights and child rights mainstreaming would be hampered”.

“It is clear that Child Rights Connect has managed to influence institutional systems and practices of actors of central importance from a child rights perspective”.

“The establishment of the Children’s Advisory Team serves as a role model for other organisations”.

– Evaluation of the work of Child Rights Connect, 2022

Annual Reports

Executive Committee

This committee has legal, policy and management responsibility for the network. It meets quarterly to provide the network with strategic direction and to supervise the work of the Secretariat and the thematic Working Groups. It is accountable to the General Assembly.

Maria HerczogPresident
Maria Herczog has been doing research on child welfare, child protection and on child rights, family matters for more than 30 years. She is author of several books, book chapters and journal articles with over 100 publications on these topics. She has been teaching child welfare and protection at different universities since 1989. Maria is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and in the media. She has been working with UNICEF, Council of Europe, WHO as a temporary scientific expert for decades and working on projects with BCN, Hope and Homes for Children, ISS and others as a consultant and as a senior technical advisor. Maria has a Ph.D. in sociology and is a visiting senior lecturer at ELTE University Law Faculty. She is also chair and program director of the Family Child Youth Association in Budapest, Hungary. She has been working as a senior policy officer at the Institute for Human Services, in Columbus, Ohio since 2018. She is currently working on two projects with Eurochild. She has been a member of the Board of Learning for Wellbeing Foundation since 2018 and a Trustee on the Board of Home and Homes for Children since April 2020. Maria was a member to the UN CRC Committee between 2007- 2015, and the Rapporteur of the Committee between 2013-2015.

She was an elected member of the Management Board of Eurochild in 2009, and its president between 2010 and 2016.

Maria Belen Paz AguilarVice-President
Maria Paz is a Bolivian woman who has been passionate about children’s rights and child participation from a very young age. She studied in the French school in La Paz, Bolivia, and moved to Paris in 2004 to study international law and international cooperation. Her voluntary work in different NGO’s led her to specialise in the education and children’s rights sector. She worked for ‘Initiatives of Change France’ as the field coordinator of the ‘Education for Peace Programme’ in Paris for eight years, then joined the CATS (Children as Actors for Transforming Society) Programme as part of the Core Team and Child Protection Officer for five years. She has been living in La Paz, Bolivia, for the past six years, where she has been developing child participation projects and doing field research.

She is currently the Director for Development and Latin America of Act2gether an initiative of the Learning for Wellbeing Foundation.

Catherine MbengueSecretary
Ms Catherine Mbengue is a former United Nations official with vast experience in children’s rights. Ms Mbengue served in UNICEF, between 1981 and 2011, in several leadership positions, including as a Country Representative in Afghanistan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi and Mauritania. Ms Mbengue also served as the ECPAT International Senior Advisor, Advocacy for Africa and at the global level, representing ECPAT in Geneva. She is a long-time serving member of the International Board of Trustees of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) , including as the Chairperson of the Administrative Council from 2012-2018. She holds two Master’s degrees in Economics and in Political Science from Sorbonne University in Paris.
Maria Lucia Uribe TorresTreasurer
Maria Lucia Uribe is the Executive Director of Arigatou International office in Geneva since 2013. In her role as Executive Director, she currently heads the strategic implementation and expansion of the Ethics Education for Children Initiative, ensuring that values-based education is integrated in programs to respond to the prevention of violence and the promotion of peace building and interfaith and intercultural learning and collaboration.
Mrs. Uribe is currently convener of the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence, and of the Working Group on Children and Violence of Child Rights Connect. Previously she served as Coordinator of the Working Group on Education and Fragility for the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). Mrs. Uribe holds a Master in Peace and Conflict Transformation from the University of Basel, Switzerland; a specialization in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and a Bachelor degree in Finance and International Relations and from Externado University in Colombia.
Flutra GoranaFocal point on child participation
With the start of civil war in former Yugoslavia, at age 19, I became a refugee. I was one of very few fortunate refugees that were welcomed by United States of America. I escaped war.
I joined the humanitarian and development sector by chance as a volunteer with a refugee resettlement organization in NYC. From then until now, I spent 24 years working with refugees and asylum seekers, mainly children and youth from Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, Liberia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Eretria, South Sudan, DRC, Afghanistan, Iraq, survivors of torture and refugee trauma, survivors of human trafficking from South America, workforce development and education for refugee and asylum-seeking youth.
Since 2016, I have been living and working in Lebanon, responding to the Syrian refugee crisis with focus on children and youth. Currently, I am the Country Director for War Child Holland in their Lebanon Office.
Maria Amihan AbuevaMember
Amihan has been working on child rights by strengthening the organizations she has worked with and by building alliances and coalitions locally and internationally, to have larger impact on policies and programs to ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence. She understands the challenges faced by children in the Southeast Asia/ASEAN region. She is currently the Regional Executive Director of CRC Asia, a regional network of child rights organizations and coalitions in Asia. She has promoted child participation to protect children from violence, promote active citizenship of children, defend human rights and a healthy environment. In September 2008, Amihan was the first recipient of the Wilberforce Leadership Award given by the US-based organization Free the Slaves, an award given to an individual who influenced institutions, government, business or large groups of people to significant action to fight slavery.
Dreeni GeerMember
Dreeni Geer is a global leader in child rights, equality, and social justice. She is currently the Global Director of Child Rights, Equality, and Social Justice at Save the Children International. With over 20 years of experience, Dreeni has worked in various roles across Asia, Africa, MENA, and North America, focusing on human rights law, child rights advocacy, and programming in both humanitarian and development contexts. She has expertise in equity, diversity, and inclusion, addressing inequality and discrimination based on factors such as gender, disability, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and religion.

She also specialises in gender equality and combating sexual and gender-based violence. Her previous roles include serving as an Adjudicator for the Appeals Division at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Director of Human Rights and Equity at Lakehead University, and Country Director for War Child in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dreeni holds a Juris Doctor degree from Queens University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo.

Leo RatledgeMember
Leo Ratledge is a Co-Director of the Child Rights International Network (CRIN). He leads on legal and policy work within CRIN and is jointly responsible for the organisation’s strategy and direction. He has worked internationally on the human rights of children since 2010, particularly specialising on access to justice for children, addressing impunity for sexual violence and addressing how children’s rights are impacted by emerging technologies. He has substantial experience working with international and regional human rights mechanisms as well as working collectively with coalitions to campaign for the realisation of children’s rights.


Jean Zermatten
Jean Zermatten is a renowned specialist of children’s rights. Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child from 2005 to 2013, he was elected Chairman in 2011. and was the first Swiss member of this Committee.

Former judge, Jean Zermatten also worked to launch the first Swiss Children’s Rights Network. He remains active in the direction of academics programmes in Switzerland and abroad on children’s rights and protection.
Jean Zermatten became patron of Child Rights Connect in 2018.

The Child Rights Connect Children’s Advisory Team

Child Rights Connect’s Children’s Advisory Team (CAT) is a permanent structure within the organisation. It is a global Team of child advisors that are empowered as human rights defenders to shape and take forward activities on children’s rights, in line with our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.

Find out more about the Children’s Advisory Team

General Assembly

This is where our member organisations come together each year to approve the network’s plans and activities and elect people to various key roles. Specific actions at the General Assembly include:

  • Approving the strategies, plans and activity reports of the Executive Committee, the Secretariat and the thematic Working Groups
  • Approving the budget, auditor and audited accounts
  • Approving new members’ applications
  • Electing the Executive Committee and President of the network.

Our Policies

Child Rights Connect is committed to realizing children’s rights around the globe. We acknowledge our duty to be as effective and efficient as possible, as well as to be transparent, accountable, and responsive to all our stakeholders, including children. Our top priority is to be and act as a child safe organisation.

Our organisational policies support and promote transparency and accountability at all levels of our organisation, including within our network, and help meet the expectations and rights of all our stakeholders, particularly of children.

Our key policies apply to members of our Network and Executive Committee (Board) and we ask them to sign that they have read and understand their related responsibilities, and commit to comply with these policies.

Overview of our policies
Our policies for everyone

Our History

The landmarks for child rights includes key milestones in relation to the UN and CRC Committee’s work, child participation and Child Rights Connect


Since 1983, we have influenced major child rights developments such as the drafting of the UN treaties on child rights.

We continue to play a central role in key children’s rights developments at international level, including the drafting of all the UN treaties on children’s rights. Our Secretariat is considered a leading expert on the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Meet our Members

Child Rights Connect was initially set up in 1983 as the Ad Hoc NGO Group for the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Its initial mandate was to influence the drafting of the CRC, the first and most comprehensive international human rights treaty for children. Since then, we have worked to connect UN human rights systems to the daily realities of children’s lives.

To reflect our work, which now extends beyond the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we changed our name to Child Rights Connect in 2013. As a network, Child Rights Connect has members at national, regional, and international levels, including other networks and child-led organisations. We work closely with national NGOs and coalitions, UN agencies and experts, States, and children themselves, to advance children’s rights around the world.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, we have a unique working relationship with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. We also have special ECOSOC consultative status at the United Nations, meaning that we are fully recognised to take part in United Nations deliberations.


“In 2016, our strategic partnership with Child Rights Connect reached an even higher level, opening strategic awareness about children’s human rights throughout the work of the United Nations human rights system.”

Orest Nowosad, Chief, Groups in Focus Section, Human Rights Treaties Branch, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

“Child Rights Connect is a very valuable partner of the Committee. They facilitate our interaction with children and with civil society, which helps us to get additional first-hand information from the ground.“

Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

“Child Rights Connect is our key partner to link children’s rights defenders from around the world. In 2016 we jointly tackled the new simplified reporting procedures. We are looking forward to continuing this discussion with a focus on the participation of children themselves.”

Jorge Cardona, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

“Thank you very much for all the support by Child rights connect team for us to attend the CRC pre-session. It was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to be there for the session and present children’s realities in Sri Lanka to the committee directly. The post de-brief was really helpful to identify the way forward and will share the SWOT analysis with other CSOs soon.”

Sri Lanka Delegation

“We would like to thank you all for the support that you gave to the Lesotho CSOs delegation that attended the 78th UN-CRC Pre-session in Geneva, beginning of this month. The Pre-session went really well and it was a great opportunity for the Lesotho child rights CSOs to learn more about the importance of implementing the UN-CRC and reporting on its implementation. Even though the time was very limited, the team was able to address most of the questions and issues raised by the Committee and made a commitment to provide additional information as required by the Committee.”

Lesotho Delegation

“Child Rights Connect facilitated a dynamic and high quality workshop on how to advocate for issues related to childhood statelessness at the UN level. It was highly useful for our members and partners to understand the links between their issues and children’s rights.”

Chris Nash, Director, European Network on Statelessness

“Our participation in the review of Mauritius by the Children’s Rights Committee had a positive effect on the follow-up. NGOs and the state cooperated in concrete actions. As a collective we have more weight, we are united for the same cause, and this is in the best interest of children in Mauritius.”

Kolektif Drwa Zanfan Morisien (KDZM), Mauritius Coalition

“The support we have received in the whole process has been excellent and we would be happy to repeat the same experience with other countries”

Dr. Eamonn Hanson, Senior Advocacy Advisor, War Child Holland

Our member network has a broad reach and works in every country in the world.

It is unique in its global outreach and its diversity, constituting a strong and credible global voice on children’s rights.

Help us create a world in which all children can enjoy their rights.