Complaints Mechanism: Update and Next Steps

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Summary: Meeting opens with election of Chairperson. More information soon.

Latest news

Dec 09 Working Group Meeting:
View submissions from Experts

The Human Rights Council passed a Resolution in June establishing a Working Group to discuss a communications procedure under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This was a huge step forward in our campaign.

The mandate of the Working Group is 'to explore the possibility of elaborating an Optional Protocol to the CRC to provide a communications procedure complementary to the reporting procedure under the Convention'. This means that they will not begin drafting, but will discuss whether there is a need for such a mechanism.

What happens now?

The Working Group is meeting in Geneva from 14 to 18 December 2009. All interested States have been invited. There will also be a number of experts, representatives from other UN agencies and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Children's Ombudsmen and NGOs. At the end of the five days, a report will be presented, which will then be presented at the March session of the HRC, together with a new draft Resolution to renew the mandate of the Working Group.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has set up a webpage for this event, which will include agendas, background papers and written submissions: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/OEWG/index.htm


What we want

In order to move the process forward we need the Working Group to conclude, at this meeting, that the mandate should be changed in order that they can begin the drafting of the new procedure. This can only be done by a new Resolution in the Human Rights Council at the March session.

An increasing number of States, from every region of the world, have shown their support for this process, but there are still a few who are uncertain and unclear. We strongly believe that most concerns and questions have been answered and the remaining ones, such as 'what will the procedure look like' or 'can children really use it' will only be answered once the actual drafting process begins.

Who is attending this meeting?

As mentioned earlier, all States have been invited as well as a number of experts. Confirmed experts include: Yanghee Lee, Chair of the CRC, Jean Zermatten, Vice-Chair of the CRC, Ms. Nevena Vučković, former member of the CRC, Ms Najat M'jid Maalla, Special Rapporteur on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Ms Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, Mr Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Commissioner and Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child of the Inter-American Commission, and Mr Peter Newell, child rights expert and Vice-Chair of the NGO Group for the CRC.

A number of experts will also be making written contributions in advance of the meeting.


What is the meeting about?

The Core Group of States recently circulated a concept paper to all UN delegations with information about suggested topics for discussion. The paper proposes that the Working Group discusses existing mechanisms in relation to children's rights, compatibility of a new procedure with existing ones, the issue of exhaustion of domestic remedies, and issues in relation to the child's right to be heard. Delegates will also have time to ask questions and give their views.

What can you do

In order for us to succeed, it is essential that we work together on this. The NGO Group for the CRC is coordinating efforts in Geneva, but we need national and regional partners to lobby their governments. Below are some suggestions for activities you could undertake. You can also contact us if you would like to find out more on your government's position.


1. Sign the petition

Almost 600 organisations from around the world have already signed it. The petition was launched in January 2008 calling to strengthen the enforcement of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by the drafting and adoption of an Optional Protocol to provide a communications procedure.

If you have not signed it yet, go here: http://www.crin.org/petitions/petition.asp?petID=1007

2. Network with other NGOs

You could find out whether other like-minded NGOs in your country are active on this campaign or would like to join forces with your organisation. For instance:

3. Contact your Children's Ombudsperson or Commissioner

A number of children's ombudspersons have already signed the campaign and some have taken part in meetings. It is very important to get the support of ombudspersons.

1. Is there an ombudsperson in your country?

Europe, check here: http://www.crin.org/enoc/members/index.asp

Latin America and Oceania: http://www.crin.org/enoc/network/index.asp

2. If you are not sure, you can also contact the general national human rights institution:

For Africa, contact the Permanent Secretariat of the Network of African NHRIs
Mr. Gilbert Sebihogo (gsebihogo@knchr.org)

For Asia-Pacific, you can contact the Asia Pacific Forum http://www.asiapacificforum.net/
Mr. Kieren Fitzpatrick (kierenfitzpatrick@asiapacificforum.net)

Further links to National Human Rights Institutions from the website of the OHCHR: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/NHRI/Pages/NHRIMain.aspx


4. Lobby your government

While developments at the UN might seem very far away and abstract, you have a crucial role to play, in your respective countries. Some suggestions for what you can do:

  1. Write to your Ministries to find out whether your country knows about this process. If not, send them information about it
  2. Find out whether the relevant Ministries has a formal position or not on this issue.
  3. Find out whether they will be involved in the December meeting



5. Media activities

  • Write an article or an opinion piece about this campaign and try and get it published in your national or local paper

  • Contact any journalist you may know who would be sympathetic to this issue and ask them to write about it

  • HELP? If you need advice on writing to the media, check out CRIN's Media Toolkit. See further tools and information section [http://www.crin.org/docs/media toolkit2.pdf]

Feedback: We need your input


It is very important that we share information to be more influential with the lobbying at the UN level. We need you to tell us what sorts of activities you have been involved, in did you get any media coverage, what did your Ministries say, etc. At the end of this toolkit, you will find a feedback form, which we kindly ask you to fill out and send back to us. Email goh@childrightsnet.org

We particularly need concrete examples of where an international communications procedure could have made a difference in a specific case of child rights violations.

Remember that the meeting is taking place from 14 to 18 December, so the sooner you send us information, the better! Thank you.

Further information or tools that might be useful to you:

pdf: http://www.crin.org/law/CRC_complaints/

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.