|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Chairperson of Committee on the Rights of the Child
Ms. Yanghee Lee, Chairperson for the Committee on the Rights of the Child, highlighted new developments regarding protection and promotion of child rights, including ongoing work towards elaboration of a “groundbreaking” third optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, during the first ever press conference held on the Convention, which took place at Headquarters today.
The Geneva-based Committee, she explained, monitored compliance with the Convention, as well as its two optional protocols — covering children in armed conflict and the sale of children, including for child prostitution and child pornography. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child has nearly universal ratification with the exception of two States, one of which is Somalia and the other is the United States of America,” she said, adding that the protocols, on children in armed conflict and the sale of children, had 139 and 141 State ratifications respectively.
She noted that 25 May 2010 had seen the launch of a campaign for universal ratification of the two optional protocols by 2012 and, more importantly, the compliance of existing State parties’ national legislation with them. “The crimes under the protocols must be criminalized in domestic legislation,” she emphasized. Currently, more than 30 States parties to the optional protocol on children in armed conflict still had voluntary recruitment below the age of 18, she noted. Also of concern was that many States parties still maintained legislation that “criminalized” children for prostitution rather than treating them as victims in line with the optional protocol on the sale of children.
On the positive side, she highlighted what she called an “exciting, ground-breaking development” in the ongoing elaboration of a third optional protocol, which would enable children and/or their representatives to file individual complaints of alleged violations of the rights under the Convention before the Committee. That communication procedure was an “important shift” in the recognition of children as subjects and holders of rights. She was hopeful that the approval of the final text by the Human Rights Council and, subsequently, the General Assembly would lead to its adoption in 2011.
Responding to a question regarding the refusal of the United States to ratify the Convention, she noted a lack of political will, partially due to “religious pushback” over concerns that the Convention was pro-abortion and pro-adolescent health. She stated that there was nothing in the Convention that would suggest it was pro-abortion, adding that President Barack Obama had mentioned in his election campaign that the Child Rights Convention would be one of the treaties that the United States would ratify.
* *** *