Youth Forum on the Right to Be Heard, Day 1: How to involve children in the reporting process?

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In the afternoon of Wednesday, 13th September, Lisa Myers, from the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) gave a presentation on the work of her organisation and told the children and young people how they could get involved in promoting the implementation of the CRC in their country.

What is the NGO Group?

The NGO Group for the CRC is a network of 70 international NGOs, working to promote, implement and monitor the CRC. The NGO Group aims to ensure that national NGOs can take part in the reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, strengthen cooperation between the NGO global community and the Committee. Most NGOs here today are members of the NGO Group.

How can children and young people work with the Committee?

The Committee on the Rights of the Child seeks to obtain as many different perspectives as possible, from all main child rights actors, in order to get a full picture of the child rights situation in a reporting country: governments (as they ratify the UNCRC), UN agencies, civil society and NGOs, and that includes children and young people.

For most countries, the Committee now hears from all these different actors. But as children and young people are getting more and more active, there still isn’t a systematic method to involve them in the Committee’s work, and it doesn’t happen for every country.

What could children do to get their perspective across?

Prepare their own report and submit it to the Committee. How?

  • Liaise with the NGO Group which can provide support in report writing and forward the report to the Committee secretariat. Anything submitted to the Committee will be systematically read and taken into account. The NGO Group is currently seeking to increase its support to children and young people’s organisations.
  • Work within an existing NGO or with national NGO coalitions to prepare the report jointly with this NGO. For example, in Colombia last year, the NGO coalition had an in-depth consultative process in which children could take part, before they prepared their report. NGOs can also help you organise meetings, guide you through the process and give you money to produce and send out the report. They can also help you attend the pre-session in Geneva, a meeting between the Committee and civil society before the Committee talks to the government. This gives you a chance to give your point of view before the government gives its own. However, there is not much time to talk in the pre-sessions, so in recent years, there have been private meetings organised between children and members of the Committee, where adults are not allowed to speak.
  • Gather information by organising meetings with other children, conduct your surveys, make videos about what children think about their rights in their countries, or even send songs! Make sure you look at your government’s report to see what it did not address, express your concerns and draft recommendations about how to promote your rights in your country.

Your participation at the Day of General Discussion

Participation at the Discussion day is easier. You can submit information beforehand about the topic being discussed, you can attend the event by being sponsored by an NGO in your country. You can contribute to the discussion paper (outcome paper), which has a much stronger impact than the day itself.

Then what? The Committee will take your view into account. The Convention is your Convention and Committee members want to hear from you so they hear all the different perspectives.

Questions

How do we know when our country submits a report?
You can check the website of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

What actions is the Committee going to take after we submit a report?
The Committee will include your views in their official recommendations.

Can I submit a report even though my country (US) has not ratified the CRC?
No, but you should try to get your government to ratify it.

What happens if the government don’t follow the recommendations?
The Committee will check on actions next time the State submits a report and will issue stronger recommendations, but there is no punishment, there is no way the Committee can enforce its recommendations. It is based on good will.

How can the Committee be sure that the report actually reflects the child rights situation in the country concerned?
They have to trust the government, which is not always wise, that’s why it is really important to give different perspectives to the Committee, from NGOs and from children.

 

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