The International Social Service {UPDATED}

An updated critical review of the “legitimate” International Social Service (ISS)

This was originally published on June 11th 2023. I found the missing documents on the ISS new web site while working on the Service Social International Switzerland (SSI-S) upcoming post. As such I republish the post in two parts, updated and corrected with the rich content re-found.

Who is the ISS ?

The ISS statutes say:

ISS strives to protect, defend, and support children, families and individuals separated as a consequence of cross border migration. ISS aims to ensure that respect for human rights is accorded to all individuals, particularly children.

The ISS is an International Non Profit Organisation. It was created in 1924 in London by the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) with the intention to make fathers pay for mothers across borders. In 1925 the ISS was moved to Geneva to facilitate lobbying with the international organisations there. In 1947 the ISS was recognised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to have Special Consultative Status{1}.

Where are they active?

The ISS claims to have a network of national members in 120 countries. But look closer at this handy marketing number ...

Its 2021 global report indicates it has 35 countries with members, and a West Africa and Asia-Pacific regional office. These regional offices are based respectively in Dakar, Senegal, since 2012; and Hong Kong, China, since 2018.

In reality, that 120 countries marketing number includes the countries where they claim to have “partnerships”. This may mean as much as “we have a business card of someone there” or “we've ever done something there” or “we've used statistics from the country”.

These “partnerships” are supposed to be subject to the ISS rules of conduct (see below). They are just marketingly savvy to use.

Looking closer, the ISS has virtually no members in the continents most in need of a women's rights or feminist organisation as the ISS: Africa, Eurasia, Asia and South America. It makes one wonder ...

In Switzerland, there have been times was a member, and times the Service Social International Genève (SSI-S) was a member. The Service d’Action Sociale Bruxellois (SASB) is the ISS member in Belgium. The Droit d’Enfance is the ISS member in France.


The ISS is required to submit to the UN a quadrennial report on its activities. Its last report for the 2011-2014 period was distributed on 29 February 2016. Logically, the period 2015-2018 should have been distributed at the latest by 2020.

We're 2023. Hard to know if the ISS submitted their quadrennial report to the UN or not.

It is noteworthy the prior ISS reports, such as the one for the report for the 2007-2010 period, contained information, while the last one distributed in 2016 is markedly void of substance and contents.

Hard to know what really goes on at the ISS when its UN mandatory reporting for the last 13 years are lacking or missing.

The required submission to the UN is very different from the ISS self marketing Global Report published in 2021. Its first service listed in its global report is clear: “Child abuse alert / notification”. Something to keep in mind for the next post(s).

Its national members have to report their due diligence and respect to the rules of conduct annually. They get regularly reviewed.

The SASB conceded when I contacted them in 2020 that the ISS comes to check in the countries to check its members do not violate any rules, and that the members can never do good enough for the strict ISS. The SASB lady I talked to, whose name I forgot, was clearly wary to not do anything contrary to the ISS rules. More on that call later, nothing against SASB.

ISS rules of Conduct

The ISS has strict rules of conduct, which its national members, offices, representatives and partners need to abide to:

are to be applied to all operations and activities conducted directly by ISS, or on behalf of ISS. All members and partners of the ISS network should have or develop policies, which are in line with these standards.

The ISS has:

The ISS Statutes and their By-Laws are also sources indicative of what is possible and not. There are important points with regards to children.

With regards to children, ISS members and partners:

  1. can help, but can not act for or on behalf of (a) parent(s), or on behalf of an authority.
  2. always have to act for the best interest of the child in coherence with the international instruments governing children and human rights. This includes their zero tolerance for sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse policy.
  3. are not allowed to intervene in legal proceedings.
  4. can not intervene outside their national borders when an ISS member is available in the targeted jurisdiction.
  5. as clearly outlined in the ISS legal basis, they provide “a complementary solution” and “efficient, complementary and synergetic interventions”, i.e. free and non pay-for-service.
  6. child protection concerns must be reported directly to the designated Child Safeguarding Officer immediately

From the ISS policies standpoints, things are, or at least should be, clear. The next post(s) will show otherwise, in detail.

{1}: The “special consultative status” is nothing extraordinary, it relates to ECOSOC Resolution 1996/31: Organizations that have a special competence in, and are concerned specifically with, only a few of the fields of activity covered by the Council and its subsidiary bodies, and that are known within the fields for which they have or seek consultative status shall be known as organizations in special consultative status.

Tags: #Rights #Sexual

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