History of the Pan-American Child Congresses
The history of the Pan American Child Congress goes back many years, prior to the creation of
the Inter-American Children’s Institute itself.
In the early part of the 20th century, international congresses to discuss issues related to children
began to be held in Europe, and this practice later spread to the Americas as well. Thus, in 1910
an International Scientific Congress held in Buenos Aires adopted a proposal to hold an American
Congress on Children under the auspices of the Argentine Scientific Society.
On October 30, 1915, a special assembly of members in Buenos Aires decided to commemorate
the 100th anniversary of Argentine independence with the First Pan American Child Congress. It
was divided into seven sections: law, health, psychology, education, assistance for mothers and
children, sociology, and industrial legislation.
The Second Pan American Child Congress held in Montevideo in 1919 adopted the proposal
presented by Dr. Luis Morquio to create an International American Office for the Protection of
At the third Congress, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1922, Dr. Luis Morquio
stressed the importance of establishing this office. Two years later, at the Fourth Congress in
Santiago, Chile, a committee was set up to negotiate the creation of the International American
Office for Children—today known as the Inter-American Children’s Institute--with the Uruguayan
National Council of Administration.
The Fifth Congress held in Cuba in 1927 marked the inauguration of the International American
Institute for the Protection of Children, which would later be formally incorporated into the OAS on
April 22, 1949. It has kept its original headquarters in Montevideo, Uruguay ever since.
After 1927, subsequent Congresses were held in Peru (1930), Mexico (1935 and 2004), USA
(1942 and 1984), Venezuela (1948), Panama (1955), Colombia (1959), Argentina (1963 and
1999), Ecuador (1968), Chile (1973), Uruguay (1977), and Costa Rica (1993).
Over 90 years have gone by since that First Pan American Child Congress held in Argentina.
The focus and efforts of states have been to work together to improve the conditions and the
quality of life of children and adolescents in the Americas. Conceptual approaches and issues
involving childhood and adolescence have changed over the years, along with social, political,
cultural, and economic transformations in the region and with progress in developing international
agreements in the area of human rights--including the landmark Convention on the Rights of the
Child--as well as in keeping with the demands of the member states themselves for public
policies on children.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, member states
decided that it would be appropriate for this Twentieth Pan American Child Congress to analyze
progress achieved and to make recommendations in those areas regarded as critical for
development of rights-based public policies on children and adolescents.
In this context, the themes to be discussed at this event include the following: public policies for
comprehensive protection systems; the participation of children and adolescents in developing
civic-mindedness and values, and their impact on the activities carried out by states; and finally,
the development of international, regional, and bilateral cooperation to strengthen public policies
related to children.
The theme of participation of children and adolescents was included in the 20th Congress
because of the impact of effective citizen participation on public policies. This is the reason
underlying the organization of the First Pan American Forum for Children and Adolescents to be
held alongside the Congress, to provide an opportunity for an exchange of views and experiences
among participants and between them and the representatives of member states. This dialogue
is expected to further strengthen the commitment to the development of children and adolescents
in the Americas.