COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD TO HOLD THIRTY-NINTH SESSION IN GENEVA FROM 17 MAY TO 3 JUNE 2005

Committee on the
Rights of the Child


12 May 2005

BACKGROUND RELEASE


Situation of Child Rights in Saint Lucia, the Philippines, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Ecuador, Norway, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Yemen to be Reviewed


The Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet at the Palais Wilson in Geneva from 17 May to 3 June 2005 to review the promotion and protection of children's rights in Saint Lucia, the Philippines, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nepal, Ecuador, Norway, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Yemen.

The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives a comprehensive collection of children's rights the force of international law. The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 192 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention. The treaty is the most widely accepted international human rights instrument. Only Somalia and the United States have not ratified it. States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present periodic reports on national efforts to give effect to children's rights.

The Committee’s 18 Experts will start the session by approving their agenda and programme of work. At the opening meeting, Mr. David Brent Parfit (Canada), Mr. Awich Pollar (Uganda),
Mr. Kamal Siddiqui (Bangladesh) and Mr. Jean Zermatten (Switzerland) will make a solemn declaration to perform their duties and exercise their powers as new members of the Committee honourably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Saint Lucia are presenting initial reports to the Committee; Ecuador, Mongolia, Nepal and the Philippines are presenting second periodic reports; Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Norway and Yemen are presenting third periodic reports. Norway is also presenting its initial report under the Convention's Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

The initial report of Ecuador was taken up in 1998 and the Committee's final conclusions can be found in document CRC/C/15/Add.93; the initial report of Mongolia was taken up in 1996 and the Committee’s final recommendations on it can be found in document CRC/C/15/Add.48; the initial report of Nepal was taken up in 1996 and the Committee's conclusions on it can be found in document CRC/C/15/Add.57; the initial report of the Philippines was considered in 1995 and the Committee's recommendations can be found in document CRC/C/15/Add.29; the second periodic report of Costa Rica was considered in 2000 and the Committee issued its recommendations on it in document CRC/C/15/Add.117; the second periodic report of Nicaragua was taken up in 1999 and the Committee's recommendations on it can be found in CRC/C/15/Add.108; the second periodic report of Norway was taken up in 2000 and the Committee's conclusions on it can be found in document CRC/C/15/Add.129; and the second periodic report of Yemen was taken up in 1996 and the Committee's final recommendations can be found in document CRC/C/15/Add.47.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

The General Assembly adopted the Convention unanimously on 20 November 1989, 30 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The Convention makes States, which accept it, legally accountable for their actions towards children. Work on drafting the Convention began in 1979 -- the International Year of the Child -- at the Commission on Human Rights.

The Convention was opened for signature on 26 January 1990. That day, 61 countries signed it, a record first-day response. It entered into force just seven months later, on 2 September 1990.

Ratifying the Convention entails reviewing national legislation to make sure it is in line with the provisions of the treaty. The Convention stipulates, among other things, that every child has the right to life, and that States shall ensure the maximum child survival and development; that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and that when courts, welfare institutions or administrative authorities deal with children, the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration. The Convention recognizes the right of children to be heard.

Furthermore, States shall ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinction of any kind, and shall ensure that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being. In addition, States shall facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel into, or out of, their territories; and States shall protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation.

Also according to the Convention, disabled children shall have the right to special treatment, education and care; primary education shall be free and compulsory and discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18; no child under 15 should take any part in hostilities and children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection; and children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own cultures, religions and languages.

In May 2000, the General Assembly adopted by consensus the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Optional Protocols entered into force in 2002.

At its fifty-ninth session (2004), the UN General Assembly agreed to the request of the Committee to work simultaneously in two chambers during 2006 (starting with the pre-sessional working group meeting of October 2005) in order to increase the working capacity of the Committee and decrease the existing backlog of reports (see A/59/499).

Committee Membership

The Convention requires that the members of the Committee have a high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of children's rights. The following Experts, nominated by the States parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee: Ghalia Mohd Bin Hamad Al-Thani (Qatar), Joyce Aluoch (Kenya), Alison Anderson (Jamaica); Jacob Egbert Doek (the Netherlands), Kamel Filali (Algeria), Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Hatem Kotrane (Tunisia), Lothar Friedrich Krappmann (Germany), Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea), Norberto Liwski (Argentina), Rosa Maria Ortiz (Paraguay), Awa N'Deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), David Brent Parfitt (Canada), Awich Pollar (Uganda), Kamal Siddiqui (Bangladesh), Lucy Smith (Norway), Nevena Vuckovic-Sahovic (Serbia and Montenegro) and Jean Zermatten (Switzerland).

Mr. Doek is the Chairperson. Ms. Aluoch is Vice Chairperson, and Ms. Khattab is the Rapporteur. Two Vice Chairpersons will be elected at the beginning of the session.

Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports


The following is a tentative timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:

Tuesday, 17 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saint Lucia (CRC/C/28/Add.23)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Wednesday, 18 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The Philippines (CRC/C/65/Add.31)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Thursday, 19 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Bosnia and Herzegovina (CRC/C/11/Add.28)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.



Friday, 20 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nepal (CRC/C/65/Add.30)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Monday, 23 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Ecuador (CRC/C/65/Add.28)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Tuesday, 24 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Norway (CRC/C/129/Add.1 and
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. CRC/C/OPSA7NOR/1)


Thursday, 26 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Mongolia (CRC/C/65/Add.32)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Friday, 27 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nicaragua (CRC/C/125/Add.3)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Monday, 30 May 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Costa Rica (CRC/C/125/Add.4)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.


Wednesday, 1 June 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Yemen (CRC/C/129/Add.2)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.

* *** *
For use of the information media; not an official record