16 September 2013
The Committee on the Rights of the Child opened its sixty-fourth session this morning, hearing an address by Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session. Members also paid tribute to Lucy Smith, a former Member of the Committee who passed away in August 2013.
In her opening statement Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child was the most ratified convention of all human rights treaties. A key achievement of the Convention was to change the way children, and their role in our societies, were perceived by making sure that children were treated as individual rights-holders and not simply as the property of their parents or objects in need of charity. Putting that right into practice, however, remained a significant challenge for States parties to the Convention.
Turning to the process of strengthening the treaty body system, Ms. Pansieri said it was expected to impact on the work of the Committee, as it would provide additional weeks for most treaty bodies, to allow Committees to deal with their backlogs. The Committee, which had engaged directly with the treaty-body strengthening process, had identified certain key principles, including the independence and impartiality of the treaty bodies and their members, equipping the treaty bodies with proper material and human resources to ensure sustainability, and modernizing the work of treaty bodies by using new technologies.
Concerning recent developments in the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, Ms. Pansieri said that last Wednesday the Human Rights Council had held a panel discussion on the human rights of children whose parents had been sentenced to the death penalty or executed, which focused on the obligation of States which applied the death penalty to take into account the best interests of the child. The Human Rights Council was further expected to adopt one resolution on child mortality and one on child marriage.
In other updates, Ms. Pansieri said that the Office of the High Commissioner was increasing its focus on youth, while the Secretary-General had also made ‘youth’ a priority of the United Nations for his second term in office. The Office of the High Commissioner was working on the follow-up to the report on the promotion and protection of the rights of children working and/or living on the streets, which had been prepared in 2011. A follow-up meeting was scheduled to take place in Singapore in December 2013.
Kirsten Sandberg, Committee Chairperson, took the floor to say that this session the Committee would consider the reports submitted by the following countries: Sao Tomé and Principe, Kuwait, Moldova, Tuvalu, Lithuania, Paraguay, China, including Hong Kong and Macao, Luxembourg and Monaco. Ms. Sandberg also said that the Committee would hold a retreat in Morges, Switzerland, on 21 September on the topic of child participation in the Committee’s work. The next Day of General Discussion of the Committee would be held at Palais des Nations, Geneva, in September 2014.
The Secretariat of the Committee informed members that eight reports had been received since its last session, bringing the total number of reports pending consideration to 101. In other news, Zimbabwe had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC), bringing the total number of ratifications to 152. The Czech Republic had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC), bringing the total number of ratification to 164. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on a communications procedure (OPIC) was opened for signature in February 2012, with a total of 37 signatories so far. Albania and Spain had been the latest of a total of six countries which had ratified the Protocol.
The Committee would next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 16 September, when it would consider the combined second to fourth periodic report of Sao Tomé and Principe (CRC/C/STP/2-4).
For use of the information media; not an official record