Complaints Mechanism: Chair's proposal largely accepted

Summary: Chair's take-it or leave it proposal is accepted with one notable modification, much to the disappointment of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Following intense negotiations, the Chairperson returned shortly before 7 p.m. to present a final compromise proposal in a last ditch effort to bring the drafting process to a close. As he had hoped, the final text was approved with oral amendments and was largely in line with the take-it-or-leave-it proposal on contentious articles presented on Tuesday afternoon.

Consistent with Tuesday's proposal, the agreed text included among other things the complete deletion of collective communications, the deletion of the clear disadvantage clause, and the deletion of the provision on reservations (meaning that States can make reservations when ratifying the protocol). The one notable change was that the agreed text would not allow for States to "opt-out" of applying the communications procedure to existing Optional Protocols to the CRC.

Nonetheless, a few States said they still had concerns and wanted clarification on certain issues. Russia and China, for example had reservations about who could represent a child in bringing a communication, and wanted to limit representation to adults with close connections to the child.

Similarly, Iran felt that a child's consent to representation should be required in all instances. With the support of Nigeria, Iran also called for the return of the option to "opt-out" of accepting complaints under the existing Optional Protocols. 

On a more somber note, Uruguay spoke to express regret that it felt it had no choice but to sacrifice certain mechanisms that were essential for the protection of children in order to reach consensus.

Although acknowledging that the week's proceedings had indeed resulted in a historic event, the Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Yanghee Lee spoke with great sadness and disappointment. "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."  Ms. Lee felt she had no choice but to apologise to children for what she viewed as a truly missed opportunity for children's rights, lamenting "I am deeply sorry to every child that we have not succeeded in recognising them fully as rights holders."

On an ever so slightly more upbeat note, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and NGO Group for the CRC reminded States that the process had been rushed, and that they still had four months before the presentation of the draft to the Human Rights Council to make things right.

*Ms. Lee quoted the famous words of Maud de Boer Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General for the Council of Europe

Note: The draft Optional Protocol, as orally amended, will be annexed to the report of the OEWG (which summarises the discussions held during the session) and both will be presented before the HRC in June for adoption.

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