The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention itself provides for the establishment of such a Committee in articles 43, 44 and 45.
The Committee also monitors the implementation of two Optional Protocols to the Convention, on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The new Optional Protocol establishing a communications procedure under the CRC and its two substantive Optional Protocols will be adopted by the General Assembly at its 66th session.
Otherwise known as a ‘monitoring body’, or ‘mechanism’ (what are these?), the Committee mirrors similar set-ups for other treaties. For example, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women was set up to monitor the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
All States parties that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child have to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State Party through “Concluding Observations”. Click here for examples.
The Committee also examines those reports from States who have acceded to the two Optional Protocols.
At its first session, in October 1991, the Committee adopted guidelines for State parties when they write initial reports.
The Committee will also hear complaints submitted under the newest Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child when it enters into force. In some ways, this complaints mechanism is uniquely adapted to children. Among other things, the new communications procedure specifies that:
- In reviewing communications, the Committee on the Rights of the Child must follow the principle of the best interests of the child and have regard to the rights and views of the child;
- The Rules of Procedure for using the complaints mechanism are to be child-sensitive;
- Safeguards must be introduced to prevent the potential manipulation of children, and the Committee can decline to consider communications found not to be in a child's best interests;
- The identity of any individuals involved in submitting a complaint, including child victims, cannot be revealed publicly without their express consent; and
- Communications must be submitted with the child victim's consent, unless the person submitting the complaint can justify acting on the child's behalf without that consent.
To read the full text of the CRC complaints mechanism as adopted by the Human Rights Council in June 2011, visit http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/OEWG/docs/A-HRC-17-36.doc.
The Committee meets in Geneva and normally holds three sessions per year, for a period of three weeks in January, May-June and September. At each session, the Committee examines reports from about 10 States Parties, dicusses issues with a government delegation and issues concluding obervations.
NGOs and National Children’s Commissioners can submit "Alternative Reports" to States Parties reports to give a different perspective to the Committee. All Alternative Reports are made available through the NGO Group for the CRC and hosted on the CRIN website by session. NGO reports can also be searched on the CRIN website by country, session and author.
- Days of General Discussion
Every two years, at its September session, the Committee holds a Day of General Discussion (DGD) on a provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to issue more detailed recommendations to governments. Children, NGOs and experts are invited to submit documents to inform the Committee's one-day debate with stakeholders (UN agencies, Committee members, NGOs, academics, lawyers, children, etc).
- View all past and upcoming discussions (including NGO submissions)
- Further information is available on the OHCHR website.
- Report to the UN General Assembly
Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the GA adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child. The reports and resolutions are posted on the CRIN website.
- Regional workshops on follow up to Concluding Observations
OHCHR, in cooperation with NGOs and host governments, occasionally organises regional and sub-regional workshops to follow up on implementation of the Convention and other Treaty Bodies’ Concluding Observations. CRC workshops have been held in Damascus (Syria), Bangkok (Thailand), Doha (Qatar), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Suva (Fiji) and San José (Costa Rica), and recommendations have been issued to the regions concerned.
- General Comments
The Committee occasionally publishes its interpretation of provisions of the Convention in the form of General Comments, sometimes following a Day of General Discussion debate.
- View all of the Committee's General Comments (together with NGO submissions)
- Information available on the CRIN website and the OHCHR website.
Find out more about the working methods of the Committee
Independent experts come from a variety of backgrounds. For a list of current members, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/members.htm
A working group of the Committee meets prior to each of its sessions for a preliminary examination of reports received from States Parties, and to prepare the Committee's discussions with the representatives of reporting States.
In addition to State reports, the working group considers information provided by other human rights treaty bodies. The Committee also receives information from mechanisms established by the Human Rights Council to investigate human rights problems in specific countries or on thematic issues, for example the Special Rapporteurs on torture, on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and on violence against women. A key partner in this context is the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
Ahead of the Committee session at which the State party's report is reviewed, a pre-sessional working group of the Committee also convenes a private meeting with UN agencies and bodies, NGOs, and other competent bodies such as National Human Rights Institutions and youth organisations, which have submitted additional information to the Committee.
The end result of the pre-sessional working group's discussion on a State report is a "list of issues". The list of issues is intended to give the Government a preliminary indication of the issues which the Committee considers to be priorities for discussion.
It also gives the Committee the opportunity to request additional or updated information in writing from the Government prior to the session. This approach gives Governments the opportunity better to prepare themselves for the discussion with the Committee, which usually takes place between 3 and 4 months after the working group.
Read the Committee's Rules of Procedure
For regular news updates on the CRC and the activities of the Committee, visit CRIN's CRC news page.