The Start

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FICE was founded under the auspices of UNESCO in 1948, at a time when schools, children's homes and children's villages had been set up to meet the needs of millions of children displaced or orphaned by World War II. UNESCO saw the need to support the workers in these services, as they coped with the deprivation, emotional damage and physical harm that these children had suffered.

Many of the children had travelled a long way from their homes in the course of the War, as refugees or transported by Government decision. They were no longer in settled communities, but mixed with children from other countries and cultures, with other languages. It was felt that an international network would help people learn from each other and be able to support each other in their challenging task of creating a positive future for the children.


World War II ended nearly sixty years ago, and Europe has changed a lot in that time, and many of the countries have developed economically. The problems presented by children and young people have changed as well, and in response FICE has grown and developed. Originally know as the Fédération des Communautés d'Enfants, it changed its name about twenty years ago in order to reflect changes in emphasis, but it kept the same initials for the sake of continuity of identity.

Throughout its history, there have been FICE National Members in other continents, and Congresses have been held in Africa and North America. Although still largely-Eurocentric, FICE has members in other continents and wishes to develop further so that its membership truly reflects the worldwide services for children and young people.

FICE is now comprised of over 30 countries whose representitives work to improve the lives of children and young people world wide.

More Detail

For a more detailed history of FICE's early years, an article by CYC-Net (external website) published in the Children Webmag lays out all the facts and early developments.

Even More Detail

Irene Knöpfel-Nobs wrote a thesis on the history of FICE for a degree at Zurich University when Professor Heinrich Tuggener of Zurich was President. A version of it was published by FICE in 1992 under the title Von der Kindergemeinschaften zur ausserfamiliaren Erziehung : Die Geschichte der Fédération Internationale des Communautés Educatives. A shorter version was translated into French and English and published by FICE. Although this book does not cover the last decade, it provides excellent detail about FICE's early years, including a good bibliography and references, and it highlights the contributions of the many professionals who have provided the foundations on which today's FICE is built.

Since the period covered by Irene Knopfl-Nobs, Franz Züsli was Secretary General, followed by Thomas Mächler, each holding office for six years. For Thomas Mächler's account of the period in which he held office.

The Honorary Officers of FICE


  • Dashenka Kraleva Bulgaria 2010–2016
  • Monika Niederle Austria 2006–2010
  • Theo Binnendijk Netherlands 2000–2006
  • Robert Soisson Luxembourg 1994–2000
  • Dr. Steen Mogens Lasson Denmark 1988–1994
  • Prof. Heinrich Tuggener Switzerland 1982–1988
  • Raoul Witzberger Belgium 1975–1982
  • Louis Francois France 1970–1975
  • Rene de Cooman Belgium 1950–1970
  • Peggy Volkov United Kingdom 1950
  • Robert Preaut France 1948–1950

Secretaries General

  • Franz Züsli-Niscosi Switzerland 1983 (Autumn) - 1992 (Spring)
  • Thomas Mächler Switzerland 1992 - 1998
  • Gianluca Barbanotti Italy 1998 - 1999
  • Christoph Tanner Switzerland 1999 - 2000
  • Andrew Hosie Scotland 2007 - Present


  • Robert Soisson Luxembourg 198x? - 1994
  • Richard Joubert France 1994 - 2002
  • Rolf Widmer - 2002 - present

Honorary Titles

Members who have given outstanding service to FICE have been given honorary titles for life in recognition of their contributions. Those marked "+" have died.

Honorary Presidents

  • Louis François: France +
  • Raoul Wetzburger: Belgium
  • Professor Heinrich Tuggener: Switzerland
  • Dr. Steen Mogens Lasson: Denmark
  • Robert Soisson: Luxembourg
  • Theo Binnendijk Netherlands

Honorary Members

  • Herbert Angst: Switzerland
  • Professor Othmar Roden: Austria +
  • Camille Hermange: France
  • Meir Gottesmann: Israel +