15 January 2018
Committee on the Rights of the Child
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD OPENS SEVENTY-SEVENTH SESSION
The Committee on the Rights of the Child opened its seventy-seventh session this morning, hearing an address by Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work for the session.
Ms. Gilmore remarked that a world in which six men owned more wealth than 50 per cent of the world’s population was not a sustainable world. It was a brutally unequal world and so much of that inequality was age based. Children bore the disproportionate burden of inequality, injustice, deprivation and the cruel consequences of conflict. Yet they had nothing to do with its root causes and were never at the tables of decision-making. The world’s youth population – the healthiest, most educated and best connected – was also the poorest. The silencing, exclusion and disregard of children as agents of change and as stakeholders in the world’s future was an indulgence of the older populations that the world could ill afford. In that regard, Ms. Gilmore welcomed the fact that the Committee had devoted its next Day of General Discussion, to be held in September 2018, to “protecting and empowering children human rights defenders.” Children human rights defenders had to be empowered and protected. The world needed their renewable energy, innovation, creativity and their dreams.
The reporting card of international achievements for children made for troubling reading. According to UNICEF, despite huge progress, 15,000 children under the age of five still died every day, mostly from preventable causes and treatable diseases. If the current trends continued, with more than 50 countries falling short of the Sustainable Development Goal target on child survival, some 60 million children under the age of five would die between 2017 and 2030, and half of them would be newborns. As reported by UNESCO, only 70 per cent of children in low-income countries would complete primary school in 2030, a goal that should have been achieved in 2015. Some 130 million girls – half of them in sub-Saharan Africa – would never enter a classroom. Some 41,000 girls under the age of 18 would be married off today and every day this year. Yet, according to estimates, ending child marriage could generate more than $ 500 billion in benefits annually each year. The median age of poverty, conflict and flight was 16. The median age of privilege, wealth accumulation and closed borders was 45. The median age of parliamentary power was 53. With more children and young people alive today than ever before in all of human history, addressing age-based inequality and injustice was now urgent no matter how hidden in plain sight.
Turning to the Committee’s work in 2017, Ms. Gilmore reminded that the Committee had reviewed and adopted its concluding observations on 36 States’ reports and the backlog currently stood at 30 reports, which was an impressively low number for the Committee. Additionally, the Committee had adopted three general comments – one on children in street situations and two joint general comments in the context of international migration. Speaking of the outcomes of the deliberations on the human rights budget by the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, Ms. Gilmore noted that they had not been as the Secretary-General had hoped. They had approved five temporary positions for two years instead of the 11 posts proposed. Although the General Assembly had approved the additional meeting time requested, it had not approved the corresponding increase in staff to support the additional meeting time, which was untenable. Ms. Gilmore also reminded of the Committee’s recommendation to the Secretary-General to commission a Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. While the United Nations Task Force in charge of developing the budget for the study had indicated that $ 4.7 million would be required to undertake the study, only $ 381,000 had been received so far. For the moment, the study would only focus on two thematic aspects of deprivation of liberty, namely children deprived of liberty because they were in conflict with the law, and children deprived of liberty because they were in prison with their parents. Other areas, including child immigration detention, institutionalization of children and children deprived of liberty because of national security issues or terrorist related activities, would only proceed if further funding was received. Ms. Gilmore concluded that as the world was celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community had to redouble its efforts to ensure that benefits flowed without restriction to the world’s children who in the next seven decades would reap the harvests – toxic and fruitful – of the world’s action and inaction.
A representative of the Secretariat of the Committee informed that since the end of the previous session, 11 reports had been received by the Secretariat, bringing the number of reports pending consideration to 43, which would be reduced to 35 after the current session. As for the total number of ratifications of the Convention, it remained at 196. Nine reports had been received under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, namely from Côte d’Ivoire, Cabo Verde, Botswana, Malta, Singapore, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica and the Republic of Korea. Three initial reports were overdue as of January 15, namely those of Tonga, South Sudan and the State of Palestine. As for the number of ratifications of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, it now stood at 167, following the ratification of the Central African Republic, whereas the number of ratifications of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography now stood at 174, following the ratification of the State of Palestine. Since the Committee’s seventy-sixth session, three new States had ratified the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure – Brazil, Cyprus and Turkey – bringing the total number of ratifications to 37. The Secretariat also received two initial reports under the Optional Protocols, namely one under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict from Panama, and one under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography from Sri Lanka.
The Committee then proceeded to adopt the agenda and programme of work for the seventy-seventh session, which will run from 15 January to 2 February, and during which the Committee will review the situation of children’s rights and the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Panama, Seychelles, Spain, Solomon Islands, Palau and Marshall Islands.
The States’ reports and other documentation can be found on the session’s webpage.
Live webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available at http://webtv.un.org/
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. today to start its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Sri Lanka (CRC/C/LKA/5-6).
For use of the information media; not an official record