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Committee on the Rights of the Child holds sixty-ninth session in Geneva from 18 May to 5 June

Committee on the Rights of the Child

BACKGROUND RELEASE

13 May 2015

Situation of Children’s Rights in Eritrea, Mexico, Ghana, Honduras, Ethiopia, Netherlands, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Israel to be Reviewed

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet in dual chambers at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 18 May to 5 June to review the promotion and protection of children's rights under the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols in Eritrea, Mexico, Ghana, Honduras, Ethiopia, Netherlands, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Israel.  The Committee accepted Nepal’s request to postpone the review of  Nepal’s third to fifth periodic report as well as the initial report under the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict because of the devastating earthquake that struck the country on 25 April.

At the opening meeting, the Committee will adopt its agenda and programme of work. It will also hold elections for a new Bureau (Chairperson, four vice-chairpersons and one rapporteur)

During the session, the Committee, in addition to considering reports of States parties, will discuss the organization of its future work and methods of work, especially those concerning the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure; and will continue its discussion on the follow-up to the treaty body strengthening process.  The Committee will also continue work on three general comments on public spending to realize children’s rights; adolescents; and children in street situations.  As the Committee decided at its sixty-second session to hold a day of general discussion every two years, it will also begin to look at possible themes for the 2016 day of general discussion. In the morning of 3 June, the Committee will hold its 7th informal meeting with States.

Eritrea is presenting its fourth periodic report CRC/C/ERI/4 under the Convention.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in June 2008, can be found in CRC/C/ERI/CO/3.

Mexico is presenting its combined fourth and fifth periodic report CRC/C/MEX/4-5 under the Convention.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in June 2006, can be found in CRC/C/MEX/CO/3.

Ghana is presenting its combined third to fifth periodic report CRC/C/GHA/3-5 under the Convention.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the second periodic report, considered in March 2006, can be found in CRC/C/GHA/CO/2.

Honduras is presenting its  combined fourth and fifth periodic report CRC/C/HND/4-5 under the Convention.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in May 2007, can be found in CRC/C/HND/CO/3.

Ethiopia is presenting its combined fourth and fifth periodic report under the Convention CRC/C/ETH/4-5.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report, considered in November 2006, can be found in CRC/C/ETH/CO/3.

The Netherlands is presenting its fourth periodic report under the Convention CRC/C/NLD/4 and its initial report under the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict CRC/C/APAC/NLD/1.  The Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations on the third periodic report under the Convention, considered in March 2009, can be found in CRC/C/NLD/CO/3.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic is presenting its initial reports under the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict CRC/C/OPAC/LAO/1 and the Optional Protocol on the sale on children, child prostitution and child pornography CRC/C/OPSC/LAO/1

Israel is presenting its initial report under the Optional Protocol on the sale on children, child prostitution and child pornography CRC/C/OPSC/ISR/1.

Other documents relating to the Committee’s work can be found on the Committee’s webpage.

The Committee is a body of independent experts formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties.  The Convention gives a comprehensive collection of children's rights the force of international law.  The Committee also monitors implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention: the first on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the second on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  A third Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2011.  It allows individual children to submit complaints about specific violations of their human rights under the Convention and its first two Optional Protocols.  The Protocol entered into force on 14 April 2014, three months after the deposit of the 10th instrument of ratification or accession.

To date, 195 countries have ratified or acceded to the Convention, making it the most widely accepted international human rights instrument. Somalia and the United States have signed, but not ratified it yet.  States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present reports on their efforts to implement children's rights.  States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years.  The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations and recommendations”.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

The General Assembly adopted the Convention unanimously on 20 November 1989, 30 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child.  The Convention renders States parties legally accountable for their actions towards children.  Work on drafting the Convention began in 1979 – the International Year of the Child – at the Commission on Human Rights.  The Convention was opened for signature on 26 January 1990.  That day, 61 countries signed it, a record first-day response.  It entered into force just seven months later, on 2 September 1990.

Ratifying the Convention requires a review of national legislation to ensure it meets the provisions of the treaty.  The Convention, inter alia, stipulates that every child has the right to life, and that States shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child; that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and that the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration when they are dealt with by courts, welfare institutions or administrative authorities.  The Convention recognizes the right of children to be heard.

States shall ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinction of any kind, and that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being.  States shall facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel into, or out of, their territories and protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation.  Children with disabilities shall have the right to education, special treatment and care; primary education shall be free and compulsory and discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18; no child under 15 should take any part in hostilities and children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection. Children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own cultures, religions and languages.

Optional Protocols

In May 2000, the General Assembly adopted the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  The Optional Protocols entered into force in 2002.  Currently, 159 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and 169 States have ratified the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  A third Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2011.  It provides for a Communications Procedure to allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention and the first two Optional Protocols. To date, 17 States have ratified it: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain,  Thailand and Uruguay.

Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

Although the Convention requires States parties to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, this Optional Protocol extends the measures that States parties must undertake to protect children from these violations of their human rights.  The Optional Protocol not only defines the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution, but also provides a non-exhaustive list of acts and activities which shall be criminalized by States parties.  This criminalization also includes attempts, complicity, or participation in such acts or activities. The Optional Protocol sets out the bases for States parties to assert jurisdiction over actionable practices relating to the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography (including extra-territorial legislation) and to make provisions about extradition of alleged offenders. Based on the principle of the best interests of the child, the Optional Protocol also sets forth provisions for protecting and assisting child victims during all stages of the criminal justice process.  Preventive measures, as well as redress, rehabilitation and recovery of child victims, are also covered. For the implementation of all these provisions, the Optional Protocol asks for a close collaboration among States parties.

Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

The Optional Protocol establishes that no person under the age of 18 shall be subject to compulsory recruitment into regular armed forces, and imposes an obligation on States to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to at least 16 years. Upon ratification of or accession to the Optional Protocol, countries must deposit a binding declaration stating their minimum age for voluntary recruitment and the safeguards in place to ensure that that recruitment is voluntary.  States Parties to the Protocol shall also ensure that members of their armed forces under 18 years of age do not take direct part in hostilities. In addition, armed groups separate from the armed forces of a State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under 18. States parties are required to take all feasible measures to prevent the recruitment and use of children by any groups, including the criminalization of such practices.

Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure

This new Optional Protocol empowers children to complain about specific violations of their human rights under the Convention and its first two optional protocols by States parties to this Optional Protocol to an international body.  It establishes a procedure to bring complaints under the Convention similar to those that already exist for other core human rights treaties.  Upon receiving a complaint, the Committee will examine it to determine whether the Convention has been violated.  The Committee will guarantee that child-sensitive procedures and safeguards are put in place to prevent the manipulation of the child by those acting on his or her behalf under the Protocol. While it is examining the complaint, the Committee may request the State to adopt interim measures to prevent possible irreparable damage to the child.  It may also request protection measures to prevent reprisals, including further human rights violations, ill-treatment or intimidation, for having submitted such complaints.  If the Convention is found to have been violated, the Committee will make specific recommendations for action to the State responsible.  Under the Optional Protocol the Committee may now initiate inquiries into grave and systematic violations of the Convention and its first two Optional Protocols.  The Optional Protocol also provides for an inter-state communications procedure. The Committee adopted the rules of procedure for this Optional Protocol (CRC/C/62/3) during its 62nd session.

The Protocol opened for signature on 28 February 2012 and entered into force on 14 April 2014, three months after the deposit of the tenth instrument of ratification.

Committee Membership

The Committee is made up of Experts of high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of children's rights. The following Experts currently serve in the Committee: Amal Aldoseri (Bahrain); Suzanne Aho Assouma (Togo); Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi (Morocco); Jorge Cardona Llorens (Spain); Sara de Jesus Oviedo Fierro (Ecuador); Bernard Gastaud (Monaco); Peter Guran (Slovakia); Olga Khazova (Russian Federation); Hatem Kotrane (Tunisia); Gehad Madi (Egypt); Benyam Dawit Mezmur (Ethiopia); Yasmeen Muhamad Shariff (Malaysia); Clarence Nelson (Samoa); Wanderlino Nogueira Neto (Brazil); Maria Rita Parsi (Italy); Jose Angel Rodriguez Reyes (Venezuela); Kirsten Sandberg (Norway); and Renate Winter (Austria).

Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports

Following is a tentative timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:

Date                         Time                    Chamber A                                 Chamber B

                                              First Floor                                 Ground Floor

Monday 18 May          10 a.m.   Opening/Adoption of Agenda/Organization of Work

                                        Ground Floor Conference Room

                                 3 p.m.         Closed meeting                            Closed meeting

Tuesday, 19 May       10 a.m.       Closed meeting                            Closed meeting

                                3 p.m.         Eritrea CRC                                  Mexico CRC

Wednesday, 20 May  10 a.m.       Eritrea CRC                                  Mexico CRC

                                3 p.m.         Ghana CRC                                  Honduras CRC

Thursday, 21 May       10 a.m.      Ghana CRC                                  Honduras CRC

                                3 p.m.       Closed meeting                  Honduras OPAC/OPSC

Friday, 22 May         10 a.m.         Ethiopia CRC                               Ethiopia CRC

                              3 p.m.            Ethiopia OPAC                             Ethiopia CRC

Monday, 25 May       10 a.m.         UN Holiday                                  UN Holiday

Tuesday, 26 May      10 a.m.         Closed meeting                            Closed meeting

                              3 p.m.       Closed meeting                             Closed meeting

Wednesday, 27 May  10 a.m.        Netherlands CRC                          Lao OPAC/OPSC

                               3 p.m.          Netherlands OPAC                        Lao OPAC/OPSC

Thursday, 28 May     10 a.m.        Israel OPSC                                 Closed meeting

                               3 p.m.   Closed meeting                                Closed meeting

Friday, 29 May          10 a.m.    Closed meeting                            Closed meeting

                               3 p.m.      Closed meeting                            Closed meeting

Friday, 5 June           10 a.m.        Closed meeting

                                3 p.m.         Public Closing of the Session

The Committee on the Rights of the Child: 

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/index.htm

Convention on the Rights of the Child (ratified to date by 195 States):

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (ratified to date by 169 States):  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPSCCRC.aspx

Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict (ratified to date by 159 States): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/OPACCRC.aspx

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