On the occasion of the 31st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, held from February 29 to March 24, 2016, many resolutions on the rights of the child were adopted.
What is the Human Rights Council?
The Human Rights Council is the most important organ of the United Nations, responsible for the promotion and the protection of human rights, notably of children’s rights, everywhere in the world.
The Council convenes three times per year at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva. It examines the state of human rights in every country, but concentrates equally on thematic questions – such as the right to education – as well as on the situation in particularly vulnerable parts of the world.
Internet and new risks of violence against children
The Council focused on the question of risks related to new information and communication technologies (NTIC) – in particular Internet – and the protection of children against exploitation and sexual violence.
The NTIC are an integral part of children’s lives. They serve as tools for learning, socialization, expression, and the fulfillment of fundamental rights and freedoms. However, such technology also harbors risks, and can lead to violent acts against children.
To protect children against these dangers, the Council adopted a resolution.
BICE and of other civil society organizations’ strong involvement has increased awareness on a certain number of important points.
Indeed, just as it is a government priority to protect children from exploitation and online sexual violence, it is equally necessary for the private sector to act for the protection of children.
It is vital for the private sector to take part in the efforts and the global initiatives, in order to increase awareness among children, and to provide them with the means to act when dealing with the Internet risks.
Given the level of abuse and exploitation via the Internet, BICE estimates that governments need to go further by adopting tougher standards, including for digital networks and companies for which existing self-regulation systems, if they exist at all, are not systematically respected or applied.
Other resolutions adopted
Human Rights Education and Training
Through this resolution, Council members emphasized that Human Rights education and training are essential for the fulfillment of individual rights and fundamental freedoms, and greatly contribute to the promotion of equality and the decline of conflict and of human rights violations.
This resolution urges governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights education and training adopted in 2011.
Furthermore, to mark the 5th anniversary of this declaration, the Council will be organizing in September 2016 a meeting-debate in order to review its implementation and the good practices implemented by governments, as well as the challenges that remain to be addressed.
Preventing torture against children during police custody and temporary detention
Through this resolution, the Council reiterates that no person, including children, should fall victim to acts of torture or ill-treatment during police custody or temporary detention.
Further, it stipulates that young offenders should be separated from adults, should have access to health care and legal assistance, and should be allowed family visits.
The Rights of the persons with handicap in situations of risk
When responding to certain situations of risk, such as armed conflict, humanitarian crises, or natural catastrophes, persons with handicap – including children – are exposed to discrimination, exploitation and violence.
Female persons with handicap, both girls and women, are particularly affected. The Council urges governments to end all discrimination concerning girls and women with handicap, in order to enable them to enjoy their rights as equals.
The Council also calls on governments to take steps to ensure the protection of persons with handicap in situations of risk, by including them in the elaboration of decisions concerning such measures.
Independent Expert on Mali
Through this resolution, Council members prolonged for one year the mandate of M. Suliman Baldo, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in Mali.