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The Institute


Created in 1995, the Child rights Institute (IDE) is:
- A recognized training centre in children's rights for all professionals working for and with children in Switzerland and abroad.  
- A Swiss private law foundation active in numerous awareness-raising activities to promote children's rights and to enforce the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  
- A scientific centre solicited by numerous networks of experts and institutions working for the respect of children's rights.  

The IDE obtained the UN ECOSOC Status in 2003, renewed in 2009, 2015 and 2021. 

IDE's three main lines of action: 
1. The training of professionals working with and for children, so that children's rights are better known, respected and implemented.  
2. Raising awareness of the public and professionals on the existence, content, and requirements of children's rights, as defined by the Convention, its three additional protocols and other relevant international treaties and documents. 
3. The development of teaching materials and the publication of scientific works. 


IDE's mission is to obtain a concrete implementation of children's rights in the field,
through the training of professionals in contact with children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its 
additional protocols serve as a basis for IDE's activities.

Jean Zermatten



Jean Zermatten was born in Sion (canton of Valais, Switzerland) in 1948. He studied law at the University of Fribourg. After this, he was hired as clerk at the Criminal Chamber for Minors in Fribourg, before being appointed President of the Juvenile Court of the canton of Valais, a position he held for 25 years. Read More

In 1995, together with other pioneers, he founded the International Child Rights Institute in Sion (Bramois), an institute dedicated to the study of children's rights, the dissemination and awareness-raising of these rights and the training of professionals responsible for applying them. He was the director of this Institute from its creation in 1995 until the end of 2014.

In 2005, he was elected to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and held this position until 2013; he was Vice-Chair of this Committee from 2007 to 2011, and then assumed the position of Chair of the said Committee (2011-2013).

In parallel to his work as a judge, he was in charge of several courses in numerous institutes and universities in Switzerland and abroad.

In 2007, he was awarded the title of Doctor honoris causa by the University of Fribourg. In 2014, he received the distinction of Doctor honoris causa from the University of Geneva.

In September 2009, he was awarded the prize of the Divisional Foundation F.-K. Rünzi Foundation. In 2016, he was awarded the Prix de la Ville de Sion for his dedication to the cause of children.

Jean Zermatten was also the initiator of several academic programmes and participated in the elaboration of several laws and bills at the national level; he is in particular the author of the “Concordat romand sur l'exécution de la privation de liberté des mineurs”, was a member of the expert commission for the revision of the general part of the Swiss penal code, and author of the preliminary draft of the federal law on the penal procedure applicable to minors.

He has also written and collaborated to several books on the rights of the child; he is the author of a large number of articles and has given numerous lectures around the world.

A word from the founder - Why an institute dedicated to children's rights in Sion?

Creating a university-level institute dedicated to children's rights in Sion was a challenge... and it took an ideal alignment of the stars to make it work.

The ingredients were:

- the meeting of committed and determined people;

- the presence of the Kurt Bösch Institute, which at the time was looking for interdisciplinary topics to work on;

- the emergence of children's rights as a subject for information, training and even research;

- the need for professionals to familiarize themselves with the Convention and especially with its content and the new legal status of the child;

- the support of a major international organization, the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates, a faithful ally of the IDE;

- the decision of the Swiss Confederation to financially support this adventure;

- the favorable climate of a small town in Switzerland with regard to such a creation;

- the chance to see favorable winds blowing to make this frail boat move forward...!

Why children's rights?

In 1994, 5 years after the promulgation of the Convention, there was a very important lack of knowledge of this text among professionals in the civil and penal protection of children and the community of humanitarian organizations. Moreover, the text appeared to be a kind of nice declaration, with no concrete implications for everyday life. Switzerland had not yet ratified it and many were wary of an "international" text. It was therefore time to take this subject seriously and to fill a gap.

Why Sion and not Geneva or Zurich?

No university was rushing to deal with this issue as they weren’t seeing children's rights as an academic subject. None of the existing organizations based in these cities were aware of the potential of children's rights, nor were they considering adding it to their objectives or work. The issue of the child as a subject of rights remained a theoretical notion, with no direct present or future interest.

The IDE thus immediately profiled itself as a singular competence centre, which has known, from its first international meeting (1995), a success in terms of attendance, as much by the number as by the origin of the participants.

A publication followed to mark the seriousness and the lasting effect.

Events followed: Sion became for a long time the capital of children's rights and shone far and wide...


The Veillard-Cybulski Fund Association, set up in 1986 to honour the memory and work of Maurice VEILLARD-CYBULSKI, had the following aims, according to its statutes
  • to encourage scientific activities aimed at improving the legal protection of young people and the family;
  • to support the realisation of studies, surveys, research, treatises or works related to the themes of the congresses or seminars of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates (IAYFJM) or of another collective member organisation pursuing similar goals;
  • to reward particularly meritorious work, especially that which makes an innovative contribution to the improvement of methods for dealing with children and adolescents and their families in difficulty.
Since 1999, the International Institute for the Rights of the Child and the Veillard-Cybulski Fund Association have worked hand in hand, each entity pursuing its own mission, but both being committed to the promotion and defence of children's rights.
In this spirit, IDE hosted the AFVC in its premises, and took care of its secretariat and accounting; while the AFVC pursued its two activities of awarding a biennial Prize and organising forums, both focused on Juvenile Justice, making it clear that these activities were carried out in close cooperation.
This was recognised by both organisations as positively supporting the pursuit of their own objectives, but being largely complementary. During its 35 years of activity, the AFVC has awarded a dozen "Maurice Veillard-Cybulski" prizes, and has organised numerous meetings of professionals, mainly in Switzerland. In this way, it honoured the memory of the pioneering Swiss judge Maurice Veillard and his wife, Judge Henryka Cybulska, a recognised children's rights activist at the national level in her native Poland, and then at the international level.
From 2020 onwards, it became difficult for AFVC to continue its activities, notably because of the pandemic, important changes at IDE, and a significant decrease in the number of its contributing members.
After consultation of the Association's Committee members and the Veillard-Cybulski family members, it was decided to dissolve the Association in May 2022 and to transfer the remaining assets to IDE, in charge of pursuing the mission of honouring the memory of the two eminent youth magistrates Maurice Veillard and Henryka Cybulska, and of promoting all work related to children's rights, notably in the field of juvenile justice.


IDE is a member of the Child Rights Network Switzerland, an association of Swiss Non-Governmental Organisations, committed to the recognition and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Switzerland. The main task of the network is to report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which regularly examines progress and obstacles to the implementation of children's rights in Switzerland. 

For more information:
Flyer Child Rights Network Switzerland