The 3rd Protocol on Children’s rights had to be ratified by ten countries to take effect. This is now the case, thanks to Costa Rica’s support which was received on the 14th January. Two years after its adoption, the optional protocol to the Convention on Children’s rights establishing a procedure for the submission of communications will take effect in April 2014.
Towards a greater participation of children in the exercise of their rights
Adopted in December 2011, this individual or collective procedure allows children or their representatives to file a complaint with the United Nations Committee on Children’s rights when they believe that a right guaranteed by the CCR and the previous two optional protocols is not respected by their Government.
Some examples: the violation of the right not to be exploited and abused, interfering arbitrarily or unlawfully in the private life or in the family of a child, forced enrolment in armed groups and forces, are all valid reasons to seize the Committee on Children’s rights by a written query, which is substantiated, coherent and non-anonymous in the year following the failure of internal courses of action.
This Protocol represents a major step forward as it reinforces the participation of children in the exercise and the assertion of their rights as well as a better access of children to justice. Its implementation calls upon participating states to apply, in the best interests of the child, channels of effective solutions and compensation when the alleged violation is confirmed.
The next steps for the effective application of the 3rd Protocol
One important drawback is however to be noted: the complaints procedure is only available to those children whose states have ratified the Protocol. In order to ensure universal protection of Children’s rights, BICE is calling upon all states parties to ratify this new international legal tool as soon as possible.
Furthermore, after the ratification, an effort should be made by the states, the United Nations and civilian organizations to circulate this Protocol in a version adapted for children, so that they understand and can use it. Children’s Awareness of their rights, the mobilization of communities and the usefulness of using this tool of complaint in the event of proven violations must be reachable objectives in order to ensure a better protection of Children’s rights.
* The ten countries are Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Slovakia and Costa Rica.