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14 May 2018

The Committee on the Rights of the Child opened its seventy-eighth session this morning, hearing an address by Adam Abdelmoula, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and adopting its agenda and programme of work for the session.

Mr. Abdelmoula remarked that one billion children, which was two thirds of the world’s children, were either unaccounted for or lived in countries where the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals remained out of reach.  Between nowadays and 2030, 10 million additional children would die before their fifth birthday, although that could be prevented.  Some 31 million children would be left stunted due to the lack of adequate nutrition, and another 22 million would miss out on pre-primary education.  Almost 30 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its near universal ratification, children still faced huge challenges to have their rights recognized and reinforced.  The world had 12 more years to reverse those trends and to reach the targets it had committed to achieve in the 2030 Agenda.  If all States were to effectively implement the Committee’s recommendations, that would certainly be a major step in the right direction, Mr. Abdelmoula emphasised.

As the negotiations of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration were drawing to a close, it was crucial to treat some 30 million migrant children as children.  Child protection and welfare should be a primary consideration within migration policies and practices.  In that context, Mr. Abdelmoula said that he was pleased that the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Migrant Workers had recently shared their two Joint General Comments on the human rights of children and on respective State obligations with the co-facilitators of Mexico and Switzerland, who were leading the intergovernmental process.

Mr. Abdelmoula also expressed satisfaction with the preparations for the Committee’s next Day of General Discussion on protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders, which would be held on 28 September 2018.  Part of the Child Advisory Group had held a meeting in Geneva in March 2018 with the support of Child Rights Connect, discussing ideas with the Committee’s focal points.  Members of the Child Advisory Group, aged 11 to 17, had also discussed and provided input on the draft working methods that the Committee was developing on child participation in Days of General Discussion.  Mr. Abdelmoula expressed hope that those working methods would help other bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, to have more children actively participating in their panels and side events.

Turning to the question of insufficient resources for treaty bodies, Mr. Abdelmoula informed that some activities of the Committee may not be supported by the Secretariat to the same extent as previously.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights would address that situation in the forthcoming second report that the Secretary-General would present to the General Assembly under resolution 68/268.  As for the Global Study on Children Deprived of their Liberty, Austria, the European Union, Germany, Liechtenstein, Malta, Switzerland, Qatar and some private foundations had provided funding.  Questionnaires on children deprived of their liberty had been sent to States parties in February 2018, and States parties were expected to submit their completed questionnaires by 1 September 2018.  The intended timeline for the finalization of the Global Study was June 2019. 

Furthermore, resolution 37/20 of the Human Rights Council on the rights of the child had decided to focus its next annual full-day meeting in March 2019 on the theme “Empowering children with disabilities for the enjoyment of their human rights, including through inclusive education.”  The Management Plan 2018-2021 of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had made youth a spotlight population for the work of the Office in the years to come.  In that regard, a report on the human rights of youth would be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2018, and a resolution in that area was expected, Mr. Abdelmoula concluded.

A representative of the Secretariat of the Committee informed that since the end of the previous session, the Secretariat had received 11 reports, bringing the number of reports pending consideration to 46.  That number would be reduced to 37 after the current session.  As for the 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 Tonga, Micronesia, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Mozambique, Australia, Austria, El Salvador and Portugal.  Three initial reports were overdue under the Convention on the Rights of the Child as of 14 May 2018, namely those of Somalia, State of Palestine and South Sudan.  As for the total number of ratifications of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, it stood at 167 as before.  The number of ratifications of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and of the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure also remained the same – at 174 and 37 respectively.

The Committee then proceeded to adopt the agenda and programme of work for the seventy-eighth session, which will run from 14 May to 1 June, 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 and its Optional Protocols in Argentina, Angola, Algeria, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Lesotho and Norway. 

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 Argentina (CRC/C/ARG/5-6).

For use of the information media; not an official record