Children suffer human rights abuses all over the world, including being sentenced to death, trafficked, used in hazardous child labour, and subjected to violence and sexual abuse. They are routinely neglected by decision-makers and their views and opinions ignored. The treaty – which needed 10 countries to ratify it, in order to enter into force, will become active in three months’ time after Costa Rica ratified it on 14 January. Until then, only Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand had ratified it.
Despite its near universal ratification (all countries have ratified except Somalia, South Sudan and the United States), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was the only international human rights treaty that had no mechanism for victims to seek justice internationally when they could not get redress for violations of their rights nationally. The UN will now be better equipped to address future violations of children’s rights, and more pressure will be put on countries to ensure children’s rights are respected.
EU member states urged to ratify the new treaty
Only four EU member states (Germany, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain) out of 28 have ratified the international treaty. Plan EU calls on EU member states to promote and protect children’s rights by ratifying the new treaty as soon as possible.
Alexandra Makaroff, Head of Plan EU Office in Brussels said, “We were thrilled that the treaty will finally come into force. We have been working tirelessly over the last years to reach this point. Now children will have a better chance of seeing justice done. But EU member states must join forces with the 10 pioneers and ratify too.”
Children can now seek justice through the UN
The OP3 CRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011. Cases brought under this new communications procedure will be heard by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body of 18 independent experts responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. From 14 April 2014, victims of all new or ongoing violations in States who have ratified the treaty can start bringing cases to the Committee if no solution is found nationally. The treaty does not cover past violations.
RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN AND THEIR ADVOCATES:
- A leaflet on OP3 CRC has been developed by Ratify OP3 CRC that contains information and answers key questions on OP3 CRC. The leaflet is available in Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian
- A child-friendly version of the OP3 CRC leaflet has also been produced by Ratify OP3 CRC.
- The official text of OP3 CRC is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian
- The Rules of Procedure for OP3 CRC, adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, provides detailed provisions on the concrete functioning of the complaint procedure, and can be found here.
- Advocacy Toolkit in English, French and Spanish for campaigners to get their States to ratify.
- A letter for campaigners to send to their governments, urging them to sign/ratify. In English, French and Spanish
- A guide to using this new complaints procedure by Child Rights International Network (CRIN), a children's rights advocacy NGO, is available free of charge. It also contains a comparison of similar complaints procedures under other human rights treaties.
- Child-friendly version of the Optional Protocol by the Special Representative of the Security-General (SRSG) on Violence against Childre
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Ratify OP3 CRC - International Coalition for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure - is a coalition of international, regional and national non-governmental organisations and networks, human rights institutions and other non-governmental bodies which are committed to achieve rapid ratification and entry into force of the OPCRC on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC). It succeeds the NGO Working Group that coordinated the international campaign for the drafting and adoption of the OP3CRC, under the NGO Group for the CRC, based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Steering Committee is made up of the following organisations: Child Rights Coalition Asia, Child Rights Connect, Child Rights International Network (CRIN), Eurochild, Kindernothilfe, Plan International, Red latinoamericana y caribeña por la defensa de los derechos de los niños, niñas y adolescentes (Redlamyc), Save the Children, Terre des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF) and, World Vision
BACKGROUND TO THE UN COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE FOR CHILDREN
What is the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC)
It is an international treaty that allows for complaints to be filed against a State before the Committee on the Rights of the Child alleging a violation of any of the rights in the CRC (and the Optional Protocols on armed conflict, and sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography if the State is a party).
How does OP3 work:
There are three types of complaint:
Individual complaints - individuals or groups of individuals allege a violation.
Inquiries - The Committee can initiate an inquiry into alleged large scale abuse. This doesn't require a specific child or group of children to bring an alleged violation and takes a less judicial model. The Committee can initiate these inquiries itself for large scale abuses.
Inter-State communications - one State can lodge a complaint against another. This doesn’t need to identify individual victims and not limited to serious or widespread abuses.For any State that ratifies OP3 after the Protocol enters into force, there will be a three month waiting period before the Committee can receive complaints regarding the State. Complaints can only be filed in relation to violations that took place after the complaints mechanism enters into force in the specific State.The Committee will only hear complaints if “domestic remedies have been exhausted” - so complainants will have to first challenge the violation in every possible way through the domestic legal system.If the Committee finds for the victim(s), the Committee will be able to recommend that the government in question offer the child victim(s) remedies such as rehabilitation, reparation, financial compensation or guarantees of non-repetition.