The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on a complaints mechanism for violations of children’s rights, which was adopted on 19 December 2011 by the General Assembly, will be opened for signature at a signing ceremony on Tuesday 28 February at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The new Optional Protocol will allow children and their representatives to bring complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CRC. The creation of this new instrument illustrates the recognition that children, just like adults, should have equal access to international human rights bodies and the international system of accountability for rights violations.
The Optional Protocol is open for signature by any State that has signed, ratified or acceded to the CRC or either of the Convention’s first two Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
Getting your State to sign!
It is of the utmost importance that you contact your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice, or their equivalents, about the OP as soon as possible. This would serve three purposes: 1) to know whether discussions concerning the ratification of the new OP have already started, 2) to encourage your State to start these discussions as soon as possible if they haven't already and 3) to urge your State to at least sign the new OP at the official signing ceremony.
Remember that the signing ceremony is only the beginning of our efforts to bring the Optional Protocol into force, which will happen with the 10th State's ratification. Because the ratification process varies across countries and can in some cases take many years to be completed, we believe it to be of utmost importance to urge States to begin the process now.
To assist national lobbying to encourage your State to ratify the Optional Protocol, the NGO Group for the CRC has prepared a sample letter (below), that may be adapted to suit the context of your country, and which you can send to relevant national institutions, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, or high-level individuals.
The letter can also serve as a starting point for your national coalition or other civil society groups working together to send a joint message of support for the Protocol.