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COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD OPENS ITS SIXTY-FIRST SESSION
17 September 2012

The Committee on the Rights of the Child this morning opened its sixty-first session, in which it adopted its agenda and heard an address by Gianni Magazzeni, the Chief of Branch of the Americas, Europe and Central Asia Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In his address, Mr. Magazzeni reviewed important developments of interest to the Committee since its sixtieth session, including the High Commissioner’s report on treaty body strengthening.  On the new proposals contained in the report, Mr. Magazzeni said consensus would take more time to achieve, and the commitment of each State to actually strengthening the treaty body system was being put to the test.  Recent activities by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in the field of children’s rights were highlighted, including field missions to Moscow, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan.  The High Commissioner was currently in the process of preparing a report on the right of the child to the highest attainable standard of health.  She would also present two reports on children and the administration of justice to the current session of the Human Rights Council.
 
Jean Zermatten, the Committee Chairperson, said that during this session the Committee would examine ten State party reports: seven on the main Convention (Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Liberia and Namibia); two initial reports of Albania and Canada under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and the initial report of Albania under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on children involved in armed conflict. On 28 September the Committee would hold a day of general discussion on the rights of the child in the context of international migration.  It would also work on its draft general comments on the Best Interests of the Child, the Right to Play and the Right to the Best Possible Health, as well as development of a general comment on Business and the Rights of the Child.  Work on a draft joint general comment with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on harmful traditional practices would also continue. 

In an update on country reports received, the Committee was informed that since the last session, Switzerland, Morocco, Hungary, Venezuela, Mexico, Jordan and Sweden had submitted periodic reports and to date only two initial reports were overdue, from Nauru and Tonga.  As of 17 September 2012, 147 States had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, 158 States had ratified the Optional Protocol of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and 26 States had signed the Optional Protocol on a Communication Procedure. 


The Committee will next meet in public on Tuesday, 18 September at 10 a.m. to begin its consideration of the second to fourth periodic reports of Liberia (CRC/C/LBR/2-4) on the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Statements

GIANNI MAGAZZENI, Chief of Branch of the Americas, Europe and Central Asia Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, reviewed the most important developments of interest to the Committee since its last session.  On 22 June 2012 the High Commissioner issued a report on the strengthening of the treaty body system, which compiled the proposals made by the different stakeholders, identified synergies, linkages and areas of mutual reinforcement, and represented a common ground for future action.  The report was discussed and endorsed by the twenty-fourth annual meeting of the Chairpersons of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies, which was held in Addis Ababa in June.  During that meeting the Chairpersons highlighted the fact that although the General Assembly process was inter-governmental the treaty bodies, as relevant United Nations bodies, should participate in the deliberations.  The Chairpersons endorsed the Guidelines on the independence and impartiality of treaty body members and reaffirmed the importance of its principles.  They also held a dialogue with the African human rights mechanisms, United Nations agencies, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations, in which they discussed the complementarity between the African and the United Nations human rights mechanisms.  The intergovernmental process on the strengthening of the treaty body system had gone ahead in New York, Mr. Magazzeni said.  Views were being solidified but consensus would take more time to achieve, and the commitment of each State to actually strengthening – not weakening – the treaty body system was being put to the test. 

Turning to the recent activities of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the field of children’s rights, Mr. Magazzeni said the High Commissioner was currently preparing a report on the right of the child to the highest attainable standard of health, as requested by Resolution 19/37 of the Human Rights Council.  A further two reports on children and the administration of justice had been presented to the current session of the Human Rights Council.  The Office of the High Commissioner had also been working on child-related issues on the field: on 25 May 2012, the Office organized a presentation in Moscow on global juvenile justice indicators to the Russian context.  The Office had also carried out field work in Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica.  In Guatemala, the Office of the High Commissioner had engaged in a series of training modules with judges to develop their knowledge of the rights of the child and of practical tools to ensure effective judicial protection of children.  The training had focused on the principle of the best interest of the child and on economic, social and cultural rights.  Training had also been organized for Government officials in Colombia to promote better protection of children during armed conflicts. 

The main priority of the Regional Office for Europe was the protection and promotion of the rights of the child, including children with disabilities.  The Committee’s concluding recommendations were often used in advocacy activities undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner.  On a related note, the Regional Office for Central Asia recently supported a roundtable where a draft shadow report on Kyrgyzstan was presented to the public and discussed with relevant stakeholders. 

JEAN ZERMATTEN, Committee Chairperson, thanked Mr. Magazzeni for his address.  During this session the Committee would examine ten State party reports: seven on the main Convention (Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Liberia and Namibia); two initial reports of Albania and Canada under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; and the initial report of Albania under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on children involved in armed conflict. During the session, the Committee would also continue its work on the elaboration of rules of procedures concerning the implementation of the Optional Protocol on a Communication Procedure.  It would continue to debate the presentation and the content of its final observations, and would look at the Guiding Principles on the independence and impartiality of the treaty body members, adopted during the twenty-fourth annual meeting of the chairpersons of the human rights treaty bodies held in Addis Ababa in June 2012.  It would also review the advancement of the treaty body strengthening process. 

On 28 September, in Room XIX of the Palais des Nations, the Committee would hold a day of general discussion on the rights of the child in the context of international migration.  Also during the present session, the Committee would continue to work on its draft general comments on Articles 3 (best interests of the child), 31 (Right to Play) and 24 (right to the best possible health) of the Convention, as well as development of a general comment on business and human rights of the child.  Work on a draft joint general comment with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on the subject of harmful traditional practices would also continue.  In addition, the Committee would decide on the theme for its 2013 day of general discussion, said Mr. Zermatten, adding that the next session would be held from 14 January to 1 February 2013.

The Chairperson then presented the agenda for the session, which was adopted by the members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The Committee Secretariat updated members on reports received.  Since the last session, Switzerland, Morocco, Hungary, Venezuela, Mexico, Jordan and Sweden had submitted periodic reports and to date only two initial reports were now overdue, from Nauru and Tonga.  Regarding the status of the Optional Protocols, as of 17 September 2012, 147 States had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, 158 States had ratified the Optional Protocol of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and 26 States had signed the Optional Protocol on a Communication Procedure. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

CRC12/027E