ARCSEA is a non-profit and non-government organization working to systematically promote children’s rights and works towards increased children’s participation in social transformation in Southeast Asia.

ARCSEA logo superimposed on children playing

The Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA) is a non-profit and non-government organization working to systematically promote children’s rights and works towards increased children’s participation in social transformation in Southeast Asia. Such pledge is recognized by ARCSEA to eventually achieve its vision of a society where all children fully enjoy their rights.

Its membership are largely professionals working in social development fields such as psychologists, social workers, writers and child rights advocates.

ARCSEA’s strategic goals are the following:

  • contribute to children’s capacity to express themselves and access relevant information, services and resources;
  • promote initiatives in the formation of children’s organizations;
  • develop and promote rights-based approaches and resources in support of children’s issues in SEA;
  • contribute to policy development and advocacy on child rights issues in SEA;
  • contribute to solidarity and exchange on child rights issues;
  • enhance the capacity of ARCSEA to effectively respond to internal and external changes.

In the past 19 years, ARCSEA has remained steadfast in taking part in the realization of the rights of children through the faithful implementation of research, advocacy, and service components of its program.

The following are the projects of ARCSEA under Children Empowerment and Participation Program: child rights policy development and advocacy, capacity-building for child rights-based programming, children’s empowerment and participation, research and resource development for children’s issues, and networking for children’s issue in Southeast Asia.

Most of its projects are implemented in the Philippines but are planned to be expanded to the SEA region.

Child Rights Policy and Development

Through the Child Rights Policy and Development project, ARCSEA engages in various child rights issues, such as the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility, climate justice, and the labor export policy in the Philippines.

Under the Child Rights Policy and Development project, ARCSEA has tackled the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility in the Philippines; as legislators, last 2019, proposed the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility of children in conflict with the law to 12 from age 15. With that, ARCSEA became the lead convener of the Unity of Child Rights Advocates against Inhumane Treatment and Neglect of Children (UNCHAIN Children)—a network focused on resisting anti-children and anti-poor legislations. ARCSEA also conducted educational discussions and capacity-building activities with members of urban poor communities, children and adults alike, to raise their awareness regarding the issue.

Climate crisis is also an issue that ARCSEA is compelled to respond to due to its impact on children and their families. One of the activities carried out to show ARCSEA’s unity with children in their protest against the alarming torpid response of world leaders regarding the climate crisis is an event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), with the theme “Children for Climate Justice.” Various organizations collaborated to organize the event that endeavoured to provide the opportunity for children to claim their right to participate in the climate justice discourse. As such, participants were able to demand that the top polluting countries and corporations commit to deep and drastic emission cuts, and that states declare a climate emergency that would push a comprehensive climate adaptation and resiliency package and address the human rights implications of the issue.

ARCSEA also took on the issues of the longstanding Labor Export Policy in the country. Acting on these issues prompted ARCSEA to capacitate children in various communities on and to initiate platforms such as lobbying and speakout activities to voice out their concerns.

Capacity-building for Child Rights-based Programming

ARCSEA reaches out to LGUs, schools, rural and urban poor communities, and other institutions to initiate child rights programming. This is to ensure that their activities are based on and constantly pushes the agenda for children’s rights.

Through the project, ARCSEA has trained LGU officials in various communities in Metro Manila. ARCSEA also initiated the formation of Child Rights Protection Brigade in urban poor communities in Marikina, Quezon City, Tondo, and Valenzuela. It is a grassroots and multi-stakeholder approach to promote and protect the rights of children. These are active in promoting the rights of children in their respective communities.

Children’s Empowerment and Development

ARCSEA ensures the promotion of children’s participation in social transformation. We consistently conduct consultations, capacity-building activities and educational discussions on relevant issues with and for children; provide opportunity for children to participate and express themselves; and help in the formation of children and youth organizations at the community level.

CED project has allowed the implementation of a radio program, Kaya Natin ‘To, Kids! (We Can Do This, Kids!), with children anchors discussing various societal issues at a level that children themselves can understand. The radio program concluded its 3rd season last 2018.

Also, through the consultation component of the project conducted by ARCSEA to children from urban poor communities of Marikina, Quezon City, Tondo, and Valenzuela, they have expressed local issues that affect their wellbeing and their rights as children as well as the need to address them. 

Pertinent capacity-building activities and educational discussions were also done from 2017 to 2018 with children so they could effectively practice their right to participate, particularly through opportunities initiated by ARCSEA—such as the radio program, speakout activities, and the CRPB.

Research and Resource Development for Children’s Issues

ARCSEA initiates researches on the issues of children in Southeast Asia with the help of its partner organizations. From the researches, ARCSEA publishes materials for advocating children’s rights such as books and articles on maternal and child health, child abuse prevention, early childhood care, and education and child rights assessments.

With this project and through the Save Our Schools Nework (SOS Network-a network of NGOs, church-based groups, and other stakeholders advocating for Filipino children’s right to education), ARCSEA, has conducted fact-finding mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte in 2018 to uncover violations on indigenous Lumad children’s right to education.

ARCSEA also plans to do a research on the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the women and children of migrant families in Southeast Asia in the aspect of violence against women and children.

Networking and Solidarity on Children’s Issues in SEA

To strengthen its capacity to effectively respond to challenges confronted by children, ARCSEA forms or joins formations, networks and alliances on issues affecting children in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

ARCSEA is also part of several networks to pursue children’s rights:

  • Save Nueva Vizcaya Movement – a movement with urgent mission to oppose destructive large-scale mining projects in Nueva Vizcaya;
  • Network Opposed to the New Centennial Water Source Project- a network that resists the construction of dams that will affect Dumagat Indigenous People of Rizal and Quezon Provinces, Philippines and other nearby communities;
  • Save Our Schools (SOS) Network;
  • Unity of Child Rights Advocates Against Inhumane Treatment and Neglect of Children (UNCHAIN Children);
  • Task Force Children of the Storm (TFCOS) – a network of child-focused NGOs in Metro Manila formed for relief and rehabilitation of children during times of calamities. The TFCOS is currently conducting relief operations in the Philippines in response to the current Pandemic and the impact of the successive typhoons (Goni and Vamco).