17 May 2001


Experts to Examine Reports From Denmark, Turkey, Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Guatemala, Cote d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Bhutan and Monaco

The promotion and protection of children's rights in Denmark, Turkey, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Cote d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Bhutan and Monaco will be at the top of the agenda as the Committee on the Rights of the Child meets in Geneva from 21 May to 8 June 2001.

The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most complete statement of children's rights ever made and the first to give these rights the force of international law. The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 191 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention, a number that makes the treaty the most widely-accepted human rights instruments ever. Only Somalia and the United States have not yet ratified it. The States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present and defend reports on how they give effect to children's rights.

During this three-week session, the Committee may also pursue the elaboration of general comments based on various principles and provisions of the Convention. It is expected to pursue its discussions of ways and areas in which existing cooperation with various relevant bodies could be further strengthened to enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. The panel will also discuss the organization of its future work, as well as the procedure to be followed in the consideration of reports by States parties and their follow-up, including where necessary areas identified for technical assistance.

The Committee is composed of 10 independent Experts, although States parties have adopted an amendment to the Convention that would increase the membership to 18 in order to enable the Committee to face a rapidly-growing workload. The amendment will enter into force upon acceptance by a two-thirds majority of States parties.

The Committee will start its work by approving its agenda and programme of work. It will also elect a new Bureau.

Concluding Remarks on Reports of States Parties Previously Reviewed

Of the nine countries whose reports are being considered this session, two have had reports previously reviewed. The other seven countries are presenting their initial reports.

In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Denmark, which was reviewed in January 1995, the Committee welcomed, among other things, the adoption of a law which made it illegal to possess child pornography. It was encouraged to note the existence of the Government's Children's Committee and the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Children, and the appointment of a board for ethnic equality. Principal subjects of concern included Denmark's reservation to article 40 (2) of the Convention, and the adequacy of measures taken to ensure that the principles and provisions of the Convention were widely known to children and adults alike. The Committee was also concerned that certain provisions and principles of the Convention, particularly those guaranteed in articles 3, 12, 13 and 15, had not been adequately reflected in national legislation and policy-making. Listing recommendations, the Committee encouraged Denmark to consider the possibility of withdrawing its reservation to the Convention, and it suggested that the Government consider establishing the Convention as the framework for the work of the Children's Committee and the Inter-ministerial Committee on Children. Further, it suggested that national mechanisms established to coordinate, evaluate and follow-up the policies and measures taken to implement the Convention should work in close cooperation with local authorities and municipalities.

In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Guatemala, which was reviewed in June 1996, the Committee cited among positive aspects the steps taken to secure a durable peace within Guatemala, particularly by enhancing the enjoyment of human rights, including for the indigenous peoples. It also noted as a positive development the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights, the Agreement on Resettlement of the Population Groups Uprooted by the Armed Conflict, and the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA), particularly its human rights component. Noting areas of concern, the Committee referred to the inadequacy of measures adopted to allocate priority to the implementation of the principles and provisions of the Convention, and the absence of a national policy for children. Also, the Committee was equally concerned about the lack of measures to harmonize national legislation with the principles and provisions of the Convention. Further, it was especially concerned that the Minors Code currently in force in Guatemala contained provisions which are incompatible with the Convention and did not address all the rights recognized by the Convention. The Committee recommended that children's issues be accorded a higher priority in Guatemala, and that the Government adopt all the necessary measures to ensure that its national legislation fully conformed to the Convention. It further recommended that Guatemala give priority attention to the development of a system of data collection and to the identification of appropriate disaggregated indicators with a view to addressing all areas of the Convention and all groups of children in society.

Timetable for Consideration of Reports

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

Tuesday, 22 May
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Denmark (CRC/C/70/Add.6)
3 p.m.-6 p.m. : idem

Wednesday 23 May
10 a.m.-1 p.m: Turkey (CRC/C/51/Add.4)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.: idem

Monday, 28 May
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Democratic Republic of the Congo (CRC/C/3/Add.57)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.: idem

Tuesday, 29 May
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Guatemala (CRC/C/65/Add.10)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.: idem

Wednesday, 30 May
10 a.m.-1 p.m. : Concluding Observations and Methods of Work (closed)
3 p.m.-6 p.m. : idem

Thursday, 31 May
10 a.m.-1 p.m. : Cote d'Ivoire (CRC/C/8/Add.41)
3 p.m.-6 p.m.: idem

Friday, 1 June
10 a.m.-1 p.m. : Tanzania (CRC/C/8/Add.14/Rev.1)
3 p.m.-6 p.m. : idem

Tuesday, 5 June
10 a.m.-1 p.m. : Bhutan (CRC/C/3/Add.60)
3 p.m.-6 p.m. : idem

Wednesday, 6 June
10 a.m.-1 p.m. : Monaco (CRC/C/28/Add.15)
3 p.m.-6 p.m. : idem

Thursday, 7 June
10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Concluding Observations and Methods of Work (closed)
3 p.m.-6 p.m. : idem

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 its drafting 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 States shall ensure to the maximum child survival and development; every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and, 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 distinctions of any kind; that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being; States should 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 culture, religion and language.

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 shall enter into force three months after the deposit of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession.

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 State parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee: Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Al-Sheddi (Saudi Arabia); Ghalia Mohd Bin Hamad Al-Thani (Qatar); Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand); Luigi Citarella (Italy); Jacob Egbert Doek (Netherlands); Amina Hamza El Guindi (Egypt); Judith Karp (Israel); Awa N’Deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso); Marilia Sardenberg (Brazil); Elisabeth Tigerstedt-Tähtalä (Finland).

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