The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is currently holding its 66th Session in Geneva, Switzerland. The session began on May 26 and will continue until June 13, 2014. During this time, the Committee is scheduled to review State reports from Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, the United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, and St. Lucia on their implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention) and/or its Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict and Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. [OHCHR: CRC opens sixty-sixth session]
Reports of Jordan
At the start of the session, the Committee considered Jordan’s combined fourth and fifth reports on its implementation of the Convention, as well as its initial report on implementation of the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict and its initial report on implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
During the interactive dialogue between the Committee and the Jordanian delegation, the Committee raised questions concerning adolescent health, the practice of child marriage, access to education, the legal right of minors, and other issues relating to the treatment of children. Due to the ongoing presence of a large number of Syrian refugees in Jordan, a number of questions concerned the rights and well-being of refugee children. [OHCHR: Reports of Jordan]
The delegation from Jordan responded to questions from the Committee, confirming that Jordan had laws regulating child marriage and summarizing efforts to amend and draft appropriate legislation to protect children’s rights. The delegation also commented on policies to prevent violence against children, criminal penalties for the practice of involuntary hysterectomies, the lack of discrimination in schools, and the implementation of other measures to protect the rights of children in accordance with the Convention. Concerning the situation of Syrian refugees, the delegation specifically communicated Jordan’s need for additional international support to handle the financial and social costs of assisting the large number of Syrian refugees. [OHCHR: Reports of Jordan]
With regard to Jordan’s initial report on its implementation of the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict, the Committee and the delegation engaged in dialogue concerning the age of recruitment into the armed forces, the role of military schools, recruitment of child soldiers in refugee camps by non-State actors, and extradition laws. During the discussion concerning Jordan’s implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee and delegation spoke about the implementation of the protocol’s provisions in domestic law, the prosecution and conviction of traffickers, and programs and policies relating to assistance and protection for victims of trafficking. [OHCHR: Reports of Jordan]
Report of Kyrgyzstan
During this session, the Committee also considered the combined third and fourth reports of Kyrgyzstan on its implementation of the Convention. When presenting the report, the Minister of Social Development of Kyrgyzstan informed the Commission that the State had adopted a revised version of the national Children’s Code in 2012, signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and ratified the Hague Convention on International Adoption. [OHCHR: Report of Kyrgyzstan]
The Committee and the Kyrgyzstan delegation discussed a wide range of issues relating to the rights of the child, including the practices of early marriage and bride kidnapping, problems with birth registration, violence against children, and concerns related to the education system. Delegates from Kyrgyzstan also noted that the State was working to eradicate the worst forms of child labor and increase accessibility for children with disabilities. However, no statics were available regarding discrimination against children with non-traditional sexual orientations or the criminal liability of persons involved in child pornography or prostitution. [OHCHR: Report of Kyrgyzstan]
The Committee concluded by thanking the delegation of Kyrgyzstan for its efforts and recommending that Kyrgyzstan adopt the third Optional Protocol to the Convention which gives children the opportunity to submit individual complaints to the Committee. [OHCHR: Report of Kyrgyzstan]
Report of the United Kingdom
The Committee also examined the initial report of the United Kingdom concerning its implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. This was the United Kingdom’s first report following its ratification of the Optional Protocol. [OHCHR: Report of the United Kingdom]
In both its written report and oral presentation before the Committee, the United Kingdom identified the steps that it had taken to help prevent child sexual abuse, including the drafting of a Modern Slavery Bill and the publication of a new Victim’s Code. The Committee commended the State’s efforts, but raised questions concerning the treatment of child victims in courts, the legal definition of key terms related to the protection of children from sexual abuse, and the protocol’s implementation in British territories. The delegation for the United Kingdom responded to the majority of the Committee’s concerns, but noted that the governments of British Overseas Territories had the authority to protect human rights within their respective jurisdictions. The delegation pledged to respond in writing to questions about the placement of vulnerable child trafficking victims in Bed and Breakfast accommodation and efforts to deal with sex tourism. [OHCHR: Report of the United Kingdom]
Reports of India
As scheduled, the Committee considered India’s report on its implementation of the Convention, as well as its report concerning the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict and its initial report on the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Both the Committee and the Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Head of Delegation of India noted that approximately 20% of the world’s child population resides in India. [OHCHR: Reports of India]
During the interactive dialogue regarding India’s implementation of the Convention, the Committee and government delegation discussed a wide range of issues including the implementation of the Convention at the domestic level, violence against children, adolescent healthcare, and the well-being of children in the care of the State. The delegation acknowledged the weakness of India’s laws concerning corporal punishment in non-educational settings and shared the State’s intention to amend the existing law to provide protection in the domestic setting. The delegation also addressed the State’s efforts to improve child mortality rates and maternal health care. [OHCHR: Reports of India]
With regard to India’s implementation of the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict, the Committee and the delegation discussed the appropriate age for recruitment into the armed forces or police force, the recruitment of child soldiers by non-State armed groups, and the treatment of child soldiers by the State. The interactive dialogue on the State’s implementation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography focused on efforts to reduce child marriage, the prevention of child trafficking, issues related to surrogacy, and the right to education. [OHCHR: Reports of India]
Other Agenda Items
The Committee is also scheduled to hear reports from both Indonesia and St. Lucia on those States’ implementation of the Convention. Upcoming meetings of the Committee, including the scheduled review of Indonesia and St. Lucia, may be available for viewing via the UN Treaty Body Webcast page.
Also during the ongoing session, the Committee will meet with relevant stakeholders, discuss developments in the treaty body strengthening process, continue preparations for the September 2014 Day of General Discussion on digital media and the rights of the child, and further its work on two draft General Comments on public spending to realize children’s rights and on adolescents and on a draft joint General Comment on harmful practices being developed with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. [OHCHR: CRC opens sixty-sixth session] The final days of the session will consist of private meetings until the public close of the session on June 13.
Following the session, the Committee will issue concluding observations for each State reviewed, which can be expected to identify successes and failures in each State’s implementation of the Convention and include recommendations for the State. Documentation from the session including the Programme of Work, State party reports, submissions from civil society, and concluding observations (when issued) may be found on the 66th Session webpage.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child
The CRC, a body of 18 independent experts, is responsible for monitoring States parties’ compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as with the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The CRC issues General Comments, holds thematic discussions, and monitors State compliance with the treaty and its protocols through its periodic reporting process. All parties to the Convention must submit reports to the Committee at designated intervals. The Committee holds three sessions each year where it considers State reports and makes recommendations for improvements in State practice. As of April 2014, the CRC may also consider individual complaints alleging a violation of an individual’s rights under the Convention or its optional protocols by States that have accepted the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure.
The CRC’s 67th session will be held from September 1, 2014 to September 19, 2014 in Geneva. During this upcoming session, the Committee is scheduled to hear reports concerning the implementation of the Convention and/or its Optional Protocols from Croatia, Fiji, Hungary, Morocco, Venezuela, and Singapore.
For more information on the Committee on the Rights of the Child or other United Nations treaty bodies visit IJRC’s page on the Human Rights Treaty Bodies.