11 September 2017
The Committee on the Rights of the Child opened its seventy-sixth session this morning, hearing an address by Orest Nowosad, Chief of the Groups in Focus Section, Human Rights Treaties Division of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee adopted its agenda and programme of work for the session, which includes the review of 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 Ecuador, Tajikistan, Cyprus, Denmark, Republic of Moldova, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vanuatu and Guinea.
In his opening address, Mr. Nowosad noted the tragic loss of at least 8,500 refugees and migrants who had died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean, and warned that 92 percent of the 13,700 migrant children who had arrived to Italy in the first seven months of 2017 were unaccompanied. Mr. Nowosad denounced the violations against children in the context of migration, noting that the migrant children in a number of countries and regions including in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Myanmar, Australia, and at the border with the United States were particularly affected. At the end of the last year, 65.6 million people have been forcibly displaced with a record 22.5 million refugees, more than half of which were children. In this context, Mr. Nowosad emphasised the importance of the Committee’s efforts to develop two joint general comments on the protection of children in the context of international migration with the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had organized regional consultations in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund and other partners to enrich the text of the joint general comments and provide relevant inputs from a broad range of stakeholders. The positive trend regarding the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure continued, with 32 communications being registered, out of which 27 had been in 2017, however, since the last session, there had been no new ratifications, demonstrating the need to continue and intensify collective efforts to make States aware of this instrument, noted Mr. Nowosad. The general comment N°21 on children in street situation would be launched at the Palais des Nations during the current session of the Committee, and would be jointly organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Uruguay, the European Union and the Consortium for Street Children. Turning to the treaty body strengthening process, Mr. Nowosad said that the International Service for Human Rights, with the support of Switzerland and Costa Rica, had organized the consultations on political strategy ahead of 2020 review of the treaty bodies in May 2017. Some of the challenges identified were weak state compliance, as well as the insufficient harmonization of working methods, while the problem of late and non-reporting of State parties and common approach to engagement with national human rights institutions had been highlighted.
It was particularly worrying that 37 per cent of initial reports under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and 28 per cent of initial reports under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, were overdue. To overcome such problems and to support States in their reporting obligations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was providing sub-regional training of trainers workshops on treaty body reporting. During the June 2017 session of the Human Rights Council, the Office had presented its analytical study on the relationship between climate change and enjoyment of the rights of the child, and the Council had adopted the resolution 35/14 on youth and human rights.
The State support to fundraising for the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty had been disappointing thus far, said Mr. Nowosad, who went on to highlight the importance of the recent report “Leading the realization of human rights to health and through health” prepared by the High Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents and presented at the World Health Assembly. Its recommendations had been presented to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Director General of the World Health Organisation, as a call for action. The report was based on the notion that health and human rights were inextricably intertwined and that the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals depended on perceiving health and human rights as an integrated agenda. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organisation were now developing a joint work plan which would identify the areas where efforts on promoting health and human rights could be supported in the context of treaty body work.
A representative of the Secretariat of the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that eight reports had been received since the seventy-fourth session, bringing the number of reports pending consideration to 46. There had been no new ratifications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child or its three Optional Protocols, thus the number of State parties to the Convention remained at 196; to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict at 166; to the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography at 173; and to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure at 34.
Renate Winter, Committee Chairperson, said that during the current session, the Committee would consider the reports of Ecuador, Tajikistan, Cyprus, Denmark, Republic of Moldova, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vanuatu and Guinea. It would further adopt two joint general comments on children in the context of migration prepared with the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and would look at any communication it had received under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.
The Committee then adopted its agenda and programme of work for the seventy-sixth session which will run from 11 to 29 September 2017 at the Palais Wilson in Geneva.
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 11 September to start the consideration of the combined fifth to sixth periodic report of Ecuador (CRC/ECU/5-6).
For use of the information media; not an official record