Elects New Bureau after Four New Committee Members Make the Solemn Declaration
13 May 2019
The Committee on the Rights of the Child this morning opened its eighty-first session at the Palais Wilson in Geneva. Four new Committee members made the solemn declaration, and the Committee then elected its new Bureau, naming Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna as the Chairperson. The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session, during which it will review the reports of Botswana, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Malta, Singapore and Tonga under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the report of Sri Lanka under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
In his address to the Committee, Adam Abdelmoula, Director, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanism Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Representative of the Secretary-General, said child health and education had improved almost everywhere, and children were increasingly considered as rights holders rather than mere victims in need of assistance.
Nevertheless, hundreds of millions of children continued to have their rights violated, including their right to life as demonstrated by the casualties among children in Yemen or the children who were killed during the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka. It was important to pause and reflect on what had been done so far and what more could be done for children.
The following four new members of the Committee made the solemn declaration: Bragi Gudbrandsson, Philip Jaffé, Faith Marshall-Harris and Aïssatou Sidikou.
Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna was elected as the new Chairperson. Velina Todorova, Renata Winter, Amal Salman Aldoseri and Gehad Madi were elected as Vice-Chairpersons.
The Committee heard statements from representatives of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, United Nations Children’s Fund, Child Rights Connect, and the Secretariat.
The eighty-first session of the Committee will run from 13 to 31 May 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 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 14 May, to start its consideration of the initial report of Tonga under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/TON/1).
ADAM ABDELMOULA, Director, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanism Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Representative of the Secretary-General, said child health and education had improved almost everywhere, and children were increasingly considered as rights holders rather than mere victims in need of assistance. Nevertheless, hundreds of millions of children continued to have their rights violated, including their right to life as demonstrated by the casualties among children in Yemen or the children who were killed during the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka. It was important to pause and reflect on what had been done so far and what more could be done for children.
A note verbale was sent to Member States on 8 March requesting that they provide information to the Committee on their commitments with respect to children’s rights, as well as national initiatives to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention. The information received would be posted on the Committee’s webpage and displayed at the Palais des Nations. The note verbale encouraged States parties to renew their commitment to the Convention by pledging to take one specific and measurable action for the promotion, protection and realization of the rights of the child. In addition, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had developed CRC@30, a campaign on the Convention’s anniversary which would be launched on 13 May. It would seek to promote awareness among the public of the Convention’s principles and children’s rights; reflect, along with the Committee, United Nations Member States and mandate holders, on the success stories of the past 30 years and potential challenges in promoting the implementation of the Convention and its Optional Protocols; and engage stakeholders to become part of the Stand Up movement as “Children’s Rights Champions”.
While the mandated activities of the human rights treaty bodies continued to grow in number and scope, regular budget resources were not keeping pace, he stated. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had taken the exceptional measure of allocating additional resources from some un-earmarked voluntary contributions to supplement the limited resources available from the regular budget and to finance mandated activities that had ought to be financed by the regular budget. Turning to the meeting of the Chairs of the treaty bodies that would take place in New York in June, he recalled that it would be last formal opportunity enabling inclusive discussions between treaty bodies before the review set to take place by April 2020.
Mr. Abdelmoula noted that the Human Rights Council had adopted two resolutions on the rights of the child at its fortieth session held in March. The next Human Rights Council Social Forum, due to take place on 1 and 2 October, would focus on the rights of children and youth through education, he stated, adding that he hoped to count on the Committee’s strong collaboration in that context. The preparation of the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty was at its final stage, and the study would be launched at the General Assembly. He expressed hope that the work coming out of it would assist the Committee in monitoring the rights of children deprived of liberty.
Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions said that the Committee had long recognized that children’s access to the organizations that protected their rights was generally limited and that national human rights institutions therefore played a crucial role in defending these rights. The Committee’s work had been vital: a study jointly conducted by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and the United Nations Children’s Fund revealed that national human rights institutions welcomed opportunities to report under the Convention and its Optional Protocols. It allowed them to examine child rights-related issues in great depth and make use of the recommendations in their engagement with relevant State authorities. For example, the national human rights institutions of Albania and Egypt had established specialized child rights units as a direct result of recommendations by the Committee. Similarly, the German national human rights institution had been entrusted as the primary body to monitor the Convention following the Committee’s recommendation to that effect.
United Nations Children’s Fund said that preparations for CRC@30, the Convention’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations, were well underway. National summits would take place on November 20, running in parallel with an event in New York and one in Geneva, which would be organized by the Association 30 ans des droits de l’enfant. The anniversary year was an important opportunity to take an in-depth look at the child rights achievements of the past three decades, the challenges that remained and the opportunities that existed to consolidate progress and accelerate change. The United Nations Children’s Fund had developed a child-friendly version of the Convention, which compiled “best-off formulations” from the many existing versions and reflected the opinions of children from various countries collected by Child Rights Connect. Icons were also designed to illustrate each right. The Committee had been invited to endorse both the child-friendly version of the Convention and the icons.
Child Rights Connect remarked that the Annual Day on the Rights of the Child had been instrumental in bringing together children’s rights defenders and disabled persons’ organizations. Child participation had been a key component of this event. Child Rights Connect had also celebrated the fifth anniversary of the third Optional Protocol by organizing a meeting that brought together Member States, United Nations agencies and civil society organizations to discuss common strategies towards universal ratification and effective implementation. Despite these positive advancements, members of Child Rights Connect across all regions had been reporting increased challenges, notably shrinking civil society space and serious threats against children’s rights, such as media campaigns and propaganda.
A representative of the Committee’s Secretariat said that the number of ratifications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child remained at 196. Since the last session, the Committee had received 12 reports. This brought the number of reports pending consideration to 48. Out of the 12 received reports, 11 were under the Convention, namely the periodic reports of Kiribati, Djibouti, Andorra, North Macedonia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Bolivia, Canada, Germany, Iceland and the Philippines. Two initial reports were overdue as of 13 May, those of Somalia and South Sudan. There was one new ratification by Marshall Islands of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, whose number of ratifications stood at 176. Marshall Islands and the State of Palestine had ratified the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, bringing the total number of ratifications to 44. One initial report had been received under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, namely that of Pakistan.
For use of the information media; not an official record