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United Nations: Treaty Will Allow Children to File Rights Complaints

(Apr. 22, 2014)

On April 14, 2014, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure came into force, three months after the date on which the tenth country, Costa Rica, deposited an instrument of ratification of the Protocol. (New Treaty Enables Children to Lodge Complaints with UN About Rights Violations, UN NEWS CENTRE (Apr. 14, 2014).) The other nine countries that have ratified the Protocol are Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Thailand. (Status as at 14-04-2014, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure [hereinafter the Protocol] (Dec. 19, 2011), UNITED NATIONS TREATY COLLECTION.)

The Protocol allows children to loge complaints directly with the United Nations if their rights are violated. (The Protocol (2011), UNITED NATIONS TREATY COLLECTION.) According to a joint statement from the Chair of the U.N. Committee on Violence Against Children, the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives on Violence Against Children and for Children and Armed Conflict, and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography,

Children are now further empowered as this Optional Protocol recognises their capacity to exercise and claim their own rights … . It is a sad reality that, 25 years after the adoption of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, children’s rights continue to be violated on a daily basis, including through violence, exploitation and abuse. We hope that this new treaty will give voice to children’s testimonies and help them to obtain the necessary remedy and reparation. (Press Release, Children Can Now Lodge Complaints with the UN About Violations of Their Rights (Apr. 14, 2014), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website.)

Children and their representatives in countries that have ratified both the Convention and the Optional Protocol, once they have exhausted the remedies available to them in those countries, will be able to take complaints to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. (Id.)