Bureau International Catholique de L'enfance (BICE)

views updated


An international network for professionals in child welfare established in France in 1948, the BICE provides a forum through which organizations and individuals can defend children's interests. It gives particular attention to the most deprived, especially disabled children, child victims of the street, war, and sex trade. In all its actions the BICE underscores spiritual growth, intercultural awareness, and the rights of the child.

Originally established to care for children affected by the Second World War, in the early 1950s the BICE expanded its focus, creating the Medico-Educational and Psycho-Social Special Care Commission that devotes special attention to the faith development and spiritual needs of handicapped and suffering children worldwide. Further, the BICE invites other childcare groups to join in a common effort to address the special needs of children and awaken public opinion in their regard.

In 2001, the BICE's primary activities were: 1) the promotion of policies relative to childrens' rights, such as "Poder Crecer," the development of strategies for the application of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for 11 Latin American countries; 2) positive approaches and supervision of particularly vulnerable children, such as those involved in armed conflict (Liberia) or those accused of "witchcraft" (Democratic Republic of Congo); 3) the prevention of and intervention against sexual abuse and exploitation of children, such as the protection of young girls in India; 4) alternatives and rehabilitation for children deprived of their liberty, such as imprisoned children or their families from Latvia to Senegal. Through the development and implementation of pilot projects, training seminars, educational materials, and action-oriented research, the BICE seeks to further the holistic growth of all children, to support family-based child development strategies, and to build upon the capacities of children to participate in their own development.

The BICE was instrumental in the initiation and promotion of the International Year of the Child (1979) under the aegis of the United Nations. It also established a forum to study the growing problem of street-children. A series of seminars held between 1983 and 1986 had as their theme "The Spiritual Growth of the Child." It was in relation to this theme that the BICE's Special Care Commission sponsored the 1984 conference, held in Chicago, on "Education in the Faith with Developmentally Disabled Persons." In September 1987 the BICE cosponsored a seminar in Luxembourg on "The Right of the Child to Receive the Faith."

The BICE's General Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, where it supports the regional delegations for central and eastern Europe as well as Asia. Regional delegations are based also in Lahr, Germany (Africa) and Brussels, Belgium (Western Europe and Latin America). The General Secretariat maintains an office in Paris for finances and communications. The New York office closed in 1997, although some coordination occurs through Catholic Relief Services. Regional offices are currently located in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Madurai, South India; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; Surkhet Province, Nepal; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Moscow, Russia. The BICE is recognized by the Holy See. As a nongovernmental organization, it has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO), the Council of Europe, and UNICEF on child-related issues. Publications include an annual report.

[m. gardinier/

p. j. hayes]

About this article

Bureau International Catholique de L'enfance (BICE)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article