Translating the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action.

We were really charting new territory with this translation project (…) You should understand the context here in China: it’s only in recent years that the number of civil society organizations engaged in social services such as child protection has expanded. (…) For us, translating the CPMS was more than just a simple translation project. The CPMS shape and define the sector – they give us a common language, and a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities when it comes to child protection in humanitarian action.

Meimei Leung, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director, World Vision International.

Interagency Collaboration

Sharing Knowledge and Resources

The translation process began at the Child Protection Conference in April 2015, organized by the Institute of Psychology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences supported by World Vision and the Zhen Ai Charity Foundation. It was an opportunity to review the 2014 Yunnan earthquake response. Serious and sensitive child protection issues arose. Many participants realized that coordinated child protection guidance was really lacking.


Civil society, government and academia

Representatives from various civil society organizations came together and formed a translation working group. We made contact with the co-chairs of the CPMS Task Force, Susan Wisniewski from Terre des hommes and Minja Peuschel from Save the Children, who guided us through the translation process. We pooled available resources, developed an action plan and a timeline. Next, we established a comprehensive review group with representatives from various civil society organizations, universities and governmental agencies – Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Plan International, UNICEF, World Vision, as well as local partners including One Foundation, Right To Play China, China Charities Aid Foundation for Children, the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Oxfam Hong Kong, Institute of Disaster Management and Reconstruction, Sichuan University and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Wing Yan Mak, Head of Children in Ministry, World Vision China.

Of our partners, Oxfam deserves a special mention. Oxfam was one of the first international NGOs to work in Mainland China – since 1987. They have supported projects in almost every province, region and municipality, working closely with government partners, academic institutions and NGOs to carry out humanitarian relief, poverty alleviation and advocacy work.

As Sphere’s focal point in China, Oxfam translated the Sphere Handbook into Chinese in 2013. The CPMS are companion standards to Sphere, and this prior experience proved to be very useful.

A Lengthy Process

Review and Revision

For the CPMS translation project, it took several months to identify a translator. Then we divided the 26 standards among the members of the review group. Each translated standard was reviewed and revised twice, by different agencies. It was a time-consuming process, but the review group was committed and engaged. Everyone needed to be happy with the final product.

It takes quite some time to translate a document like the CPMS here in China. Terms and concepts that may be routinely used in international child protection jargon don’t always have an easy equivalent in the Chinese context (…) An example? “Child friendly spaces” are not always understood in the same way. Many local civil society organizations build what we recognize as child friendly spaces, but give it many different names. The intention is shared — to keep children safe from harm, to allow them to grow, thrive and learn even in the most challenging circumstances – but common language and understanding is often lacking.

Meimei Leung, World Vision International.


National and Regional Media Coverage

The translated Minimum Standards were launched in Beijing in April 2016. The launch generated considerable interest at regional and international level, with media coverage on major channels including CCTV (China’s State Television). Over two days, participants explored child protection in humanitarian settings, with presentations on topics such as “Psychological Trauma and Psychosocial Support in the 2015 Tianjin Explosion Response”; “Child Protection and Domestic Violence”; “Art Therapy”; “Community Participation and Child Safety Education”.

High level policy makers and technical experts participated including the Director of the Policy Research Department at the National Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction, Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs; the Director of the Institute of Psychology; the National Director of World Vision China and Child Protection Advisor to World Vision, East Asia Region.

Building Local Capacity

To accompany the translated CPMS, World Vision China has also developed a comprehensive set of training materials for local humanitarian and child protection actors. This includes application guidance and case studies.

As of June 2016, the Chinese version of the CPMS has caught the attention of many child protection and humanitarian workers as well as government partners since its launch one month back. We have since received many training requests from our partners and their associated networks to promote and equip local organizations on the use of the standards. This has led to child protection alliances and networks being formed at various levels as local NGOs and government partners come together to learn more about CPMS. At our first CPMS training event in Chengdu last week, the response by government partners and the 70 local organizations in attendance were very encouraging. We received positive feedback on the application of these standards to existing child protection and humanitarian work in China, and many partners have started to promote the CPMS among their own networks. Due to the overwhelming response, we are working with our local partners to further the promotion efforts of these standards in the coming months.

Rebecca Tan, Senior Children in Ministry Officer, World Vision China.

My dream is to have the Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action ready. Translated and distributed, with application guidance and practical case studies, so that if a humanitarian emergency strikes China, all children are protected from violence and exploitation.

Meimei Leung, World Vision International.

The CPMS Working Group would like to thank World Vision International and World Vision China for this case study.