Children can now lodge complaints with the UN about violations of their rights
14 April 2014
GENEVA (14 April 2014) – United Nations child rights experts have hailed a new treaty that allows children to complain directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about alleged violations of their rights.
The treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, has today (14 April) entered into force following its ratification by the required 10 countries*.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era for children’s rights. Children are now further empowered as this Optional Protocol recognises their capacity to exercise and claim their own rights,” the four UN child rights experts** said.
“It is a sad reality that, 25 years after the adoption of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, children’s rights continue to be violated on a daily basis, including through violence, exploitation and abuse. We hope that this new treaty will give voice to children’s testimonies and help them to obtain the necessary remedy and reparation. We applaud those States which, by ratifying this Protocol, have confirmed their determination to improve children’s access to justice,” they added.
The new Protocol enables children and their representatives to submit complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child about specific violations of their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as under its other two Optional Protocols (on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution). But children can only complain if their government has ratified the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure, and if they have exhausted all legal avenues in their own country.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most ratified human rights treaty. We hope that this new Optional Protocol will soon reach universal ratification. Ratification signifies that States take their obligations seriously and are ready for any scrutiny concerning individual allegations of child rights violations,” the experts said.
“In order to reach out to the most vulnerable and marginalised children, the Optional Protocol should be widely publicised and countries should inform the public and raise awareness amongst children of their right to complain and seek redress,” they added.
(**) Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children; Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; and Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.