The Committee on the Rights of the Child this afternoon held its fourteenth informal meeting with States, discussing the Committee’s draft general comment on children’s rights and the environment, child participation and the simplified reporting procedure, among other topics.
Mikiko Otani, Chair of the Committee, said the Committee held two sessions in May and September in 2022, both for five weeks, to make up the loss of meeting time during the January session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It had reviewed 20 reports of States parties, of which five lists of issues were adopted. The Committee was continuing its work on a new general comment no. 26 on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change.
Also providing opening statements were the following Committee Experts: Velina Todorova, Ann Skelton, Peter Jaffe, Sopio Kiladze and Luis Pedernera Reyna. Speaking in the discussion were Clarence Nelson, Bragi Gudbrandsson, Luis Pedernera Reyna, Mikiko Otani, Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi, Velina Todorova, and Benyam Mezmur.
Georgia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Mali and Egypt participated in the discussion.
The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 3 February at 5 p.m. to close its ninety-second session, during which it reviewed the reports of Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Ireland, Mauritius, New Zealand, Oman and Sweden.
Opening Statements by Committee Experts
MIKIKO OTANI, Chair of the Committee, said the Committee held two sessions in May and September in 2022, both for five weeks, to make up the loss of meeting time during the January session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It had reviewed 20 reports of States parties, of which five lists of issues were adopted. The Committee was continuing its work on a new general comment no. 26 on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change. Concerning days of general discussion, the Committee adopted its decision no. 16 in September 2022 to integrate days of general discussion into the process of developing general comments. The Committee also continued its work under the Optional Protocol on a communication procedure, with regard to individual cases and inquiries. The Committee actively collaborated with other United Nations human rights treaty bodies in joint activities, including the joint statements with the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and with the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The Committee had decided to shift to the opt-out simplified reporting procedure in February 2022, which would start from 1 January 2024.
VELINA TODOROVA, Committee Expert, said the Committee was working on a general comment on children’s rights and the environment, with a focus on climate change. The drafting process involved a broad stakeholder engagement to ensure the quality of the general comment and to maximise its impact. Numerous consultations, meetings and webinars were held by Committee members in between the sessions last year. Children were involved in various ways, including through meeting several times with the Child Advisory Team. Concerns raised by the young advisors included difficulties in reaching underprivileged children, and the lack of awareness children had of their individual rights. The draft general comment was uploaded to the Committee’s webpage in November 2022 for public consultation and to collect comments, with the aim of launching it in September.
ANN SKELTON, Committee Expert, reporting on the Optional Protocol on a communication procedure, said it had come into operation in 2014. New Zealand had become the fiftieth State to ratify the Optional Protocol in 2022. It total, the Committee had registered 210 cases, and 116 decisions had been adopted; 97 cases were pending, and 38 cases were registered last year, which represented an increase year on year. The Committee could not deal with the cases as efficiently as it would like, due to lack of staff, and had called for extra funding. The Committee was encouraging States to ratify to the Optional Protocol before 2024.
PETER JAFFE, Committee Expert, said the Committee was pleased to report on a new feature to enhance its visibility in the digital environment, and had set up a Twitter handle for the Committee (UNChildrights1) one year ago. The response to the Twitter outreach had been positive, and the handle had seen a rapid growth in followers. It was approaching 4,000 followers and experiencing exponential growth. Each month the tweets produced 60,000 impressions.
SOPIO KILADZE, Committee Expert, said the Committee had taken several concrete steps to involve parliaments in better implementation of the rights of the child. Some of these actions included the adoption of a joint statement, and the joint event of Committee and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
LUIS PEDERNERA REYNA, Committee Expert, said the Committee would be picking up the simplified reporting procedure with the opt-out on children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The simplified reporting procedure would be applied in January 2024. The Secretariat would send further information for States to take action. The Committee had been working to change the dialogue structure and would produce a draft report on this, with the goal to improve the quality of dialogue with Member States.
Georgia asked what States could do to assist the Committee in its important work and to ensure achieving its goals?