A new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is soon to become a reality. It is a huge step forward in promoting children's rights, but the drafting of the communications procedure ended without a collective complaints mechanism, despite efforts made by Save the Children and other NGOs to ensure its insertion.
Human rights treaties are often followed by ‘optional protocols’ (OP), additional legal mechanisms that complement and add to the treaty. In this case, the OP adds a complaints procedure for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Working Group charged with delivering this communications procedure met in Geneva from 10-16th February. The final text was the result of intense negotiations between state delegations and heavy advocacy from NGOs.
Michael French, UN Geneva Representative & Head of Save the Children Geneva Office, highlights the positives outcomes:
“The progress towards delivering the OP continues, it contains important tools to secure children’s rights, our advocacy with key states encouraged them to soften their positions, and our championing of collective communications kept that on the table until the last moment as a bargaining chip.”
Many NGOs had pushed strongly to achieve the inclusion of a collective complaints mechanism. The consequence of such a mechanism is explained by Ellen Stie, CRGI Advocacy Manager:
“Collective complaints are a very effective way to ensure that all children have access to the communications procedure, including those who are not in position to bring complaints and those who cannot be identified, for instance victims of forced marriage or victims of child pornography”.
The removal of collective communications led to strong expressions of disappointment from NGOs and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Yanghee Lee expressed:
“Although acknowledging that the week's proceedings had indeed resulted in a historic event, I am afraid that we have affirmed that children are mini humans with mini rights", she said, "and the current draft fits this idea of children."
The draft optional protocol will be presented before the Human Rights Council in June for adoption.
For additional information regarding the OP or on how to take action, please contact CRGI advocacy Manager, Ellen Stie.