Meeting in Geneva 16-18 December 2009
Open-ended Working Group to explore the possibility of elaborating an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
Reasons and timings for a communications procedure under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Wednesday 16 December
Delivered by Alan Kikuchi-White, SOS Children's Villages International, on behalf of: International Save the Children Alliance*, Kindernothilfe*, World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)*, Plan International*, SOS Children's Villages International*, Terre des Hommes International Federation*, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC)*, World Vision International *, and the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN), the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment, the NGO Group for the CRC (*having ECOSOC Consultative Status)
Picture: Christian Jung
We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this session on reasons for, and timing of, the elaboration of an Optional Protocol and thank the speakers and delegates for their valued contributions.
We take this opportunity to highlight four key reasons for elaborating a communications procedure to the CRC:
1. To provide a remedy when national systems fail to address child rights violations
- When national systems fail them, when the CRC is not applied by national judges, when national law contradicts the CRC, or simply does not exist, children do not have any means to seek redress for violations of their rights under the CRC.
- Whilst regional human rights systems and other treaty bodies may provide some means of redress, they do not adjudicate specifically on the CRC itself nor cover all the rights guaranteed by the CRC.
2. To Strengthen the effective implementation of the CRC at national level
- In many instances, the detailed implications of the rights and principles of the CRC and - crucially - their interdependence are not clearly understood and thus not fully incorporated into national law.
- By considering communications and issuing decisions, the Committee will be further strengthened in providing expert clarification on these comlex issues and, as such, further assist States to better understand and implement their obligations.
3. To establish jurisprudence on the rights guaranteed by the CRC
- The lack of a communication procedure for the CRC leaves courts of various States to interpret the provisions of the Convention without clear jurisprudence and expert guidance from the Committee. In some cases, the wide range of interpretation may in fact limit the rights of the child.
- If the aim of the Convention is to hold duty-bearers legally accountable for meeting the obligations and to give real meaning to child rights, then a communications procedure for the Convention would ensure consistency in the interpretation of the high standards of the CRC.
4. To Strengthen the status of children as right holders
- The existence of a communications procedure under the CRC will confirm and strengthen the status of children as rights holders. It will be a strong reaffirmation from the international community, that children are not "mini human beings with mini human rights".
The elaboration of this Optional Protocol to the CRC is long overdue, and the 20th anniversary of the Convention, and these discussions, are a golden opportunity to draw a line in the sand, and to move forward in a constructive spirit and establish, once-and-for-all, the fullest possible legal status and usage of the Convention.
In closing, we maintain that the reasons to proceed - are many and compelling, and that the timing is ideal to seek to strengthen the mandate of the working group in order to begin the vital work of elaborating the 3rd Optional Protocol to the CRC.
Compilation of Joint Oral Statements