Summary: The establishment of a complaints mechanism for the CRC moved a step closer as the Chairperson of the Working Group presented his report, including a draft text to be adopted by the Council.
[GENEVA, 6 June] - The Human Rights Council has come one step closer to a complaints mechanism for children with the presentation of the final report of the drafting group .
Negotiations led to compromise
In his presentation, the Chairperson of the Working Group, Drahoslav Stefanek, said the draft Optional Protocol had been the result of a compromise and, whilst it might not initially fully meet expectations, it constituted an instrument through which increased protection for the rights of children could be provided for under the Convention.
Mr Stefanek concluded by saying that any further deferral in the process of establishing a complaints mechanism would affect the rights of many and urged the Council to adopt the resolution.
A rushed process
Back in February, the Chairperson had come under pressure from a number of States to reach consensus by the end of the second week of negotiations. This resulted in a rushed process during which a draft text was adopted with oral amendments. Key decisions included the deletion of the provision for collective communications and the possibility for States to enter reservations, among others. (Read the full story).
Representatives of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, a number of States from Latin America and Europe, civil society groups and independent human rights institutions were unhappy with the outcome lamenting it was the weakest treaty of its kind (Read more).
Response to the final report and draft text
UN Member States, Observer States, NGOs and NHRIs then responsed to the final report presented by the Chairperson and the proposed draft text.
Hungary, on behalf of the European Union, fully supported the adoption of the OP, saying it was not perfect but overall it was a well-balanced instrument. Several other States endorsed the view of the European Union, with Slovakia urging States not to support a reopening of the negotiations, arguing such a move would not lead to improvements.
The consensual adoption of the draft was not opposed by any States, however some did have objections, including Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group. The representative said that overall they supported the idea of the complaints mechanism but some issues still required clarification, including the issue of admissibility, namely that there was a need for a definition of categories of people who can submit communications.
NHRIs and NGOs
Despite welcoming the recognition of the importance of NHRIs in the pre-amble to the draft, the NHRIs' International Co-ordinating Committee said in their oral statement they would have liked a more explicit reference to the Paris Principles.
A joint statement by NGOs said that negotiations ended in a quick agreement, resulting in some rights of the CRC being overlooked. However, overall they said it will strengthen implementation of children's rights at the national level and urged the Council to adopt and initiate discussions at the national level.
Finally, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) made a statement expressing their disappointment with the outcome, particularly the way in which key provisions were hastily stripped from the draft. Despite its failings, ICJ said the OP will help children and, importantly, prompt States to provide remedies in their domestic laws.
Drawing to a close
It is likely that the Human Rights Council will adopt the draft text during this session. A draft Resolution is currently being negotiated. If this Resolution is adopted, the Optional Protocol is then referred to the UN General Assembly, probably this coming October. Another Resolution needs to be drafted and adopted. The new treaty then opens up for ratification shortly after.
- Read the draft text of the Complaints Mechanism
- Read about the last negotiating meeting / previous discussions
- Watch the session on OHCHR's webcast archive