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Committee on the Rights of the Child Closes Ninety-Sixth Session after Adopting Concluding Observations on Reports of Bhutan, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Mali, Namibia and Paraguay

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The Committee on the Rights of the Child this afternoon concluded its ninety-sixth session after adopting concluding observations on the reports of Bhutan, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Guatemala, Mali, Namibia and Paraguay, which were reviewed during the session.  The concluding observations will be made available on the session’s webpage on Thursday, 30 May.

During the session, which was held from 6 to 24 May, the Committee reviewed Panama’s report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution, while the other States presented reports under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Ann Marie Skelton, Committee Chairperson, said that some of the States that were reviewed this session had emerged from armed conflict, reminding the Committee of the huge task that lay ahead to ensure the fulfilment of children’s rights after war came to an end.  Twenty per cent of the world’s children lived in conflict situations.

During this session, the Committee adopted its biannual report on children in armed conflict, which would be submitted to the General Assembly.  Scenes shown on the media on a daily basis presented a stark picture of devastated infrastructure: homes, schools, hospitals, playgrounds – all gone. In addition, the development of children in Sudan and in Gaza was hugely at risk due to malnutrition.  Even if these children survived, they would not reach their full potential.

During this session, the Committee had met with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development, discussing two reports he was developing on climate change, loss and damage, and on the right to development for children and future generations.  It also was briefed by researchers on the theme of children who fell out of the protection mandate because the country they were living in was not recognised as a State, or was a de facto State.  Further, the Committee had been discussing the protection of children living in countries that were under administrations not recognised by the United Nations.  It continued to be concerned about all children living in such situations.

Ms. Skelton said the Committee observed a trend that children’s status as rights-holders was being questioned under the guise of culture, religion and traditions such as “family values”.  The Committee recognised the importance of the family, as enshrined in the preamble of the Convention, which recognised the family as the natural environment for the growth and wellbeing of children. However, this was not to be used as an argument that detracted from the recognition of children as subjects of rights independently from their parents.

As of 22 May, Ms. Skelton noted, there were 196 States parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 173 States parties to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, 178 States parties to the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and 52 States parties to the Optional Protocol on the communications procedure.  There had not been any new ratifications since the beginning of the session.

The current session would ordinarily have been followed by a pre-sessional working group with stakeholders, Ms. Skelton said, but this was not possible due to budget limitations. The Committee had instead conducted meetings with stakeholders for two States parties, Argentina and Ecuador, the reports of which would be assessed under the simplified reporting procedure in the next session.  The United Nations Children's Fund had provided an online platform with interpretation for these meetings and Child Rights Connect had assisted with coordination.

Under the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, the Committee adopted decisions concerning seven cases, Ms. Skelton said.  It found violations of the Convention in one case against Georgia, concerning lack of protection of children in a church-run orphanage against violence and lack of investigation of such violence; one case against Denmark concerning the return of a girl to Somalia, where she would run a risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation; and two cases concerning age determination procedures of unaccompanied migrant children, against France and Switzerland, respectively. The Committee also discontinued three cases against Georgia and Switzerland.

The Committee further discussed inquiries under article 13 of the Optional Protocol. It was currently dealing with four inquiries.  No decisions were taken on new inquiries during this session.

In addition, the Committee discussed issues related to its methods of work and continued its discussion on follow-up to the treaty body strengthening process, including on the working paper on the implementation plan for the conclusions adopted at the thirty-fourth annual meeting of the Chairs of the treaty bodies.  The next meeting of the Chairs would take place from 24 to 28 June in New York.

Ms. Skelton thanked the Committee’s many partners for their cooperation during the session, including United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and children.  The Committee had discussed a draft memorandum of understanding to cooperate more closely with the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The Committee continued its work on its next General Comment on children’s rights to access to justice and effective remedies.  A public call for contributions was issued today on the Committee webpage and interested parties were encouraged to make submissions.

Rinchen Chophel, Committee Vice-Chair and Rapporteur, presented a report on the activities of the Committee’s working groups and the individual members of the Committee during the session and in the inter-sessional period.

The Committee then adopted the report of its ninety-sixth session.

In closing, Ms. Skelton said that the ninety-sixth session had been very busy and productive.  She expressed thanks to Committee members, and members of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretariat for their flexibility and contributions to the session.  She expressed hope that the liquidity crisis would soon be resolved so that the Committee could properly undertake its mandate.

Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, and webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.  Documents related to the Committee’s ninety-sixth session can be found here.

The Committee will hold its ninety-seventh session from 26 August to 13 September 2024, during which it is scheduled to review the reports of Argentina, Armenia, Ecuador, Eritrea, Israel, Mexico and Turkmenistan under the Convention and those of Bahrain under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution, and the Optional Protocol on children and armed conflict.



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