Committee on the Rights of the Child
9 September 2019
The Committee on the Rights of the Child this morning opened its eighty-second session at the Palais Wilson in Geneva.
The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session, during which it will review the reports of Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mozambique, the Republic of Korea and Portugal under the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the report of Georgia under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; as well as the reports of Georgia and Panama under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
In his address to the Committee, Orest Nowosad, Chief of the Groups in Focus Section of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanism Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Representative of the Secretary-General, said the thousands of children who were joining in the FridayForFuture movement every week demonstrated that they had something to say in order to have a better world in which to live and grow. Children must be part and parcel of everything that the United Nations was doing. Additional efforts should be made to make sure the voices of children were not only heard, but also listened to.
The Committee also heard statements from representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Child Rights Connect, the Organization for Migration, the United Nations Children's Fund and the International Labour Organization.
The eighty-second session of the Committee will run from 9 to 27 September 2019. All the documents relating to the Committee's work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session's webpage. The webcast of the Committee's public meetings will be available via the following link: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/.
The Committee will next meet at 3 p.m. this afternoon, to start its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Australia under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/AUS/5-6).
OREST NOWOSAD, Chief of the Groups in Focus Section of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanism Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Representative of the Secretary-General, drew the attention of those present to the teens who had protested outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and others, such as 14-year-old Leah Namugerwa from Uganda, who had been striking every Friday in Kampala, for greater action on climate change. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first international legally binding agreement that set in its article 12 the right of all children to be heard and taken seriously as one of its fundamental values. As demonstrated by the thousands of children who were joining in the FridayForFuture movement every week, they had something to say in order to have a better world in which to live and grow.
For the approaching thirtieth anniversary of the Convention, there were many ongoing initiatives. On 16 September, the Director-General of the United Nations, together with children and the Chair of the Committee, would open an exhibition at the Palais des Nations dedicated to pledges by States. Mr. Nowosad reiterated that children must be part and parcel of everything that the United Nations does. Additional efforts should be made to make sure that the voices of children were not only heard, but also listened to.
Turning to the budgetary situation, Mr. Nowosad said that since sending a letter to the treaty body Chairs on 30 April about the potential cancellation of the treaty body fall sessions due to the budget shortfall, the High Commissioner for Human Rights had done her utmost to find funds so that those present could be sitting here today. The treaty bodies were the core and the bedrock of what the United Nations did. Many people relied on them. The High Commissioner was seeking solutions to ensure the meetings could proceed with minimal disruptions. There was still a critical shortfall in staffing of the treaty bodies branch. These were difficult times, due to financial constraints. "We are really scraping at the bottom of the barrel for resources," he said. It was necessary to look up, not down, and out, not in, to find solutions.
The General Assembly's 2020 review of the treaty body system was just around the corner. This review was an opportunity to stand up for the treaty body system. During the June 2019 treaty body Chairs' meeting in New York, the Chairs agreed on a common vision for the 2020 review. The Chair of the Committee would brief Committee members further on this.
The upcoming Human Rights Council Social Forum to be held on 1 and 2 October would focus on the rights of children and youth through education. This programme, which would shortly be shared, would feature youth and child representatives. The Forum would include new ways of engaging with children, including through a call for video input from children around the world.
This would be a particularly busy session again, as, in addition to the review of States parties and individual cases under the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, and the thirtieth anniversary events, there would also be the launch, on 26 September, of the newly-adopted guidelines for the implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had supported the development of the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. The United Nations General Assembly report on the study had been finalized and would be presented at the General Assembly on 8 October. A launch event would also be organized. The Office had put out a call for inputs on the report currently being prepared on "realizing children's rights through a healthy environment". On youth cooperation, the Office was working with the Organization for Islamic Cooperation's Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission to support the preparation of a seminar on the rights of youth to be held in Tashkent on 7 and 8 October.
Child Rights Connect remarked that in the year of the thirtieth anniversary, States were responding to the Committee's global call for pledges with some very positive and concrete commitments for action. These efforts would be meaningless if the Committee was not able to carry out its functions as the main accountability mechanism on the rights of the child. Child Rights Connect had published a comprehensive study on the global status of Committee reporting. It outlined trends, gaps and challenges in relation to the engagements of States parties, civil society and children in the Convention reporting cycle.
Organization for Migration said that it had been involved in a number of Europe-wide projects on children's rights, seeking to help European States ensure that migrant children received the appropriate rights and that their rights were respected. It had also carried out mapping consultations at the regional level to develop activities on child protection in collaboration in the United Nations Children's Fund. In Portugal, for instance, the International Organization for Migration had worked on mainstreaming human rights in administrative detention centres and finding alternatives to child detention.
United Nations Children's Fund said that it had finalized and started distributing the children's version of the Convention. It had been translated into French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese and these versions were now being tested with children. On the CRC@30, the Group of Friends of Children and the Sustainable Development Goals had officially launched the CRC@30 Global Pledge mid-July, reaffirming their commitment to the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the twenty-first century. On 18 November, the United Nations Children's Fund's Flagship Report - 30 years back, 30 years ahead - would be launched. The report took an in-depth look at achievements and remaining challenges as well as opportunities related to the rights of children.
International Labour Organization said that it had focused on the articles of the Convention that dealt with child labour, whether directly and indirectly. 2019 was an important year for the International Labour Organization, as it was celebrating its one hundredth anniversary. It was organizing events to stress the importance of not scaling down efforts to combat child labour and making sure that children's rights ranked high on the international agenda. It would therefore focus in the upcoming years on communications and advocacy. While progress had been made, there was still a lot of work to be done to achieve a world free of child labour by 2025.