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Print this pageComplaints Mechanism: Update and Next Steps




NGO Group for CRC Complaints Mechanism Working Group

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Latest news from Geneva - May 2009

Throughout the March session of the Human Rights Council, the Working Group of the NGO Group has been meeting with several key delegations to raise awareness about the campaign and assess States' positions. The aim is to create a cross-regional 'Group of Friends' that could present a resolution establishing the Working Group to begin drafting the communications procedure.

During the day on the rights of the child, on 11 March 2009, a number of States declared their support for the Optional Protocol initiative. Dainius Puras, member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, expressed the Committee's support for an OP on individual complaints and inquiry procedure, as it would contribute to the implementation of the CRC and its two existing protocols.

Support was also expressed by Maud de Boer-Buquichio, Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe and Philip O'Brien, UNICEF, who said that UNICEF would support any initiative on the OP emanating from the Committee or Member States.

What is happening now?

In April, Slovakia officially presented itself as the main sponsor for the resolution establishing a Working Group. They held an informal meeting to reach out to other interested delegations with a view of creating the Group of Friends.

On 29 May, they will hold an expert group meeting with two members of the CRC, two representatives of the OHCHR and one representative from the NGO Group. The aim is to provide an opportunity for State delegations to raise any further questions or concerns they might have. This will also be the last preparatory meeting before the HRC session which starts on 2 June.

We need your help

While the NGO Group continues its efforts to gather support from as many States as possible, action in Geneva is not enough. The resolution is likely to be voted on around 17 or 18 June and to participate in the negotiations, States need to have a formal position. Delegations in Geneva therefore need instructions from their capitals. This is where you come in.

What we need you to do:

  1. Find out what your State's position is.
  2. Write to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs and/or Ministry of Justice if no position has been declared (see below for arguments in favour and model letter)
  3. If your State is in favour but has not made it official, write to them explaining that the issue will be raised at the HRC now in June so they will need to make their position formal.
    4. If your State is not supportive, find out why and try to convince them not to oppose the resolution. (See Advocacy paper for help and advice)

What states are saying so far

European States
Some European States are already supporting the resolution establishing the Working Group, including: France, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Ukraine.

States that support the idea but do not yet have a formal position include Azerbaijan, Denmark, Finland and Liechtenstein.

and the UK are, for now, the most reluctant : they question the added value that such a procedure would bring to the existing system.

Arguments in support:

  • Although the European Court of Human Rights and other existing international mechanisms have reviewed cases where children were victims, their founding instruments (European Convention on Human Rights, ICCPR, CAT, CEDAW, etc) do not encompass the full range of child rights as provided under the CRC and its two existing Protocols. This means that those unique rights cannot be taken into account.
  • None of the existing bodies have expert knowledge on child rights, contrary to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
  • Most European States are Parties to other international communications procedures, it might be worth emphasising that establishing a communications procedure under the CRC would strengthen the UN Treaty Body system as a whole and recall that the aim of all those communications procedure is to strengthen the implementation of core UN human rights treaties at the national level.
  • A communications procedure under the CRC would reinforce domestic procedures by setting a model for child-sensitive procedures and providing decisions similar to case-law for a better implementation at the national level.


African States
Although all African States support the idea in principle, they generally feel defensive about such a communications procedure as they are concerned about the issue of child representation.

Arguments in support

  • A communications procedure under the CRC would be a very similar mechanism to the existing African Committee of Experts under the ACRWC with similar safeguards as to who can submit a communication (internationally recognised NGOs, for example).
  • The establishment of a communications procedure under the CRC could strengthen the work of the ACERWC thanks to cooperation mechanisms between those two bodies.
  • As the pioneers of a communications procedure dedicated to address violations of child rights at the regional level – the ACERWC is the only existing body to review communications on child rights in the world – African States should be active parts of the process establishing a similar mechanism at the UN level.


Latin American States
Although children's rights are generally an important issue for the Latin American and Caribbean States, no State has yet reached a formal position. The key States that could trigger some impetus in Geneva are Uruguay, Mexico and Chile. Other support would of course be welcome.

No particular concerns have been expressed. It would be important to remind them that the current sponsor of the resolution wants to present it for adoption at the next June session and to stress that without their official support, the process of adopting such a resolution might be delayed.

Asian States
The Republic of Korea and the Philippines are cautiously supporting the initiative. Japan and Thailand could be the two other key States to be convinced.

It is not yet clear what impedes them to support the initiative officially and any information in this regard would be extremely useful. It seems that they are not clear about the relationship between domestic procedures and the communications procedure.

Arguments in support

  • A communication or complaint will only be reviewed by the CRC after the exhaustion of domestic remedies.
  • An international mechanism does not aim to contradict national judicial bodies, rather, it aims to strengthen understanding of an international convention.
  • A communications procedure under the CRC will set a model for child-sensitive procedures and provide decisions similar to case-law for better implementation of the CRC at the national level.

Please do let us know what is happening in your country by contacting Anita Goh, Advocacy Officer in Geneva on or by calling +41 774460083


 Further useful documents and links:

Previous CRC News items

Organisation Contact Details:

NGO Group for CRC Complaints Mechanism Working Group
Peter Newell on or Sara Austin on

Last updated 03/07/2009 03:26:37

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.

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