19th Session Concludes
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To read this CRINMAIL online, click here
19TH SESSION CONCLUDES
After four long weeks, the Council's 19th session concluded on Friday in Geneva with the adoption of 41 resolutions.
Children's rights featured prominently on the agenda, most notably with the signing ceremony for the Optional Protocol and the annual day on the rights of the child, on "Children and the administration of justice."
This CRINMAIL looks back at the key discussions featuring children's rights, and rounds up other news since our last CRINMAIL.
CHILDREN'S RIGHTS ON THE AGENDA
Four years after the campaign began for a new Optional Protocol (OP), twenty States signed the new complaints mechanism under the Convention on the Rights of the Child during a ceremony on 28 February. Jean Zermatten, Chairperson for the Committee on the Rights of the Child, said the OP "recognises children as rights-holders." Find out how to get your State to sign here.
Juvenile justice - join CRIN's debate
On 8 March, States, NGOs and independent experts met for the Council's 2012 day on the rights of the child under the theme 'children and the administration of justice'. Read about the discussions here. Side events also focused on this issue, including on juvenile justice in Latin America, on age limits and on children in detention. Please also join CRIN's debate on juvenile justice here .
UN resolution: conformity over content
A resolution regarding the rights of the child, introduced by Uruguay, was adopted by consensus without a vote. The resolution concludes by calling for the 2013 annual discussion to focus on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. The final version, incorporating oral amendments, will be available soon.
CRIN is putting together a post-mortem of this year's resolution on the rights of the child. Send your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A global issue
Universal ratification of the two Optional Protocols to the CRC is a key goal in promoting children's protection from violence, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, said as she presented her annual report. (Read about the campaign).
Ms Pais also launched a report: ‘Protecting children from violence in schools’, during a side event, which included contributions from a number of NGOs. One said: "School violence is glocal: a global epidemic with local particularities."
Meanwhile, Slovenia and several other States voiced their support for the renewal of her mandate which will be reviewed at the General Assembly in September.
Syria high on the agenda
After a drawn-out debate on the deteriorating situation in Syria, the Council adopted a resolution condemning the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and expressing concern at the humanitarian situation.
In a positive sign for children's rights, Paulo Pinheiro, who led the UN Study on Violence against Children, and was the former Rapporteur on children's rights at the Inter-American Commission, was appointed Special Rapporteur on Syria. Mr Pinheiro is currently chairing the Commission on Inquiry. Read about his findings regarding violations against children in Syria here. You can also hear an interview here.
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR) - what is this?
Final reports adopted
The first cycle of the UPR officially drew to a close on 16 March as the final seventeen States, including Ireland, Tanzania and Haiti, had their UPR reports adopted. Read more here.
In the general debate on the UPR under Item 6, speakers agreed that a key priority for the second cycle was reducing the number of recommendations and ensuring they were precise, practical and implementable. Read more here.
Important opportunity for NGOs
Just a reminder, UPR-Info is inviting civil society to attend pre-session meetings with State delegations ahead of the 13th session in May. The meetings provide a new and important opportunity for NGOs. Find out more here.
Deadlines for Upcoming sessions
Finally, the reporting deadlines have been announced for the 15th and 16th sessions of the UPR. Further information here. You can also visit CRIN's UPR page.
Children's rights also featured in a number of other discussions, including:
For the first time in its history, the Council adopted a resolution entirely dedicated to the issue of birth registration and legal identity for all without any discrimination. The Resolution calls upon States to establish or strengthen existing governmental institutions responsible for birth registration and the preservation and security of such records. Read more here.
"Funding is now the major challenge," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said during a panel discussion to give voice to people living with, and affected by HIV and AIDS, including young people. Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director of UNAIDS, said that success was leading to complacency and a human rights approach was needed to take it to the next phase. More here.
"Youth and student protestors are seen as troublemakers rather than groups that can contribute to constructive debate", the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, said in her report. Whilst on the subject, a group of international experts have urged governments to halt reprisals against individuals and groups seeking to cooperate with the UN and regional human rights systems. Read more here.
"A historic moment" is how Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described the UN's first formal discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity. Discussions got off to a bad start, however, with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation staging a walkout. Read more here.
You can read coverage of all thematic discussions, including on torture, minority groups, and on freedom of expression and the internet, on our 19th session page, or on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Also under the spotlight
The apparent unwillingness of the Iranian authorities to cooperate fueled further attention to the country's human rights record, Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on Iran, said as he presented his report. Several States joined the urgent call for the prohibition of juvenile executions and the establishment of a moratorium on executions.
The Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, warned that despite signs of new reforms, policies and legislation, clear and serious human rights concerns remained that could be ignored in the rush to reform.
Concerning North Korea, UN Member States joined Marzuki Darusman, the Special Rapporteur , in highlighting the significant deterioration in the human rights situation.
Mandate extensions / new mandates
The mandates for Iran, Myanmar and North Korea were all extended by one year. To find out which other country and thematic mandates were extended, and also which new mandates were established, click here.
Full country round up
Other countries on the agenda, included: Ivory Coast, Sri Lanka and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Read more here.
Next up at the Council
- The 20th session of the Human Rights Council will take place from 18 May to 6 June. Full details will be posted here.
- The 13th session of the UPR is scheduled to take place from 21 May to 4 June. Find out which States are due to be reviewed here.
- In April, the following Special Procedure visits will take place:
- The Special Rapporteur on trafficking will visit:
United Arab Emirates (8-11 April)
- The Independent Expert on cultural rights will visit:
Russia (15 - 27 April)
- The Special Rapporteur on indigenous people will visit:
United States (23 April - 4 May)
To find out how to engage with Special Rapporteurs and for a full list of 2012 visits, click here.
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The Committee on the Rights of the Child is seeking contributions for its General Comment on Child Rights and Business. Find out how to contribute here.