COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONCLUDES SEVENTEENTH SESSION GENEVA, 5-23 JANUARY

HR/4353
26 January 1998

COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONCLUDES SEVENTEENTH SESSION GENEVA, 5-23 JANUARY

26 January 1998


Press Release
HR/4353


COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONCLUDES SEVENTEENTH SESSION GENEVA, 5-23 JANUARY

19980126 Issues Conclusions and Recommendations on Reports Of Libya, Ireland and Federated States of Micronesia

GENEVA, 26 January (UN Information Service) -- The Committee in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child concluded today its seventeenth session -- by issuing conclusions and recommendations on reports submitted to it by three countries.

Libya, Ireland and the Federated States of Micronesia, in keeping with their obligations as States parties to the Convention, presented to the Committee on the Rights of the Child during its three-week session lengthy written summaries on their efforts to promote and protect children's rights. The countries also sent government delegations to answer questions and hear the opinions of the Committee's 10 independent experts.

The Committee, in formal conclusions, recommended, among other things, that the Government of Libya further research the issue of domestic violence and child abuse, and the situation of child labour, including the involvement of children in hazardous work. It noted that the sanctions imposed by the Security Council had adversely affected the economy and many aspects of the daily life of its citizens, thereby impeding the full enjoyment of Libyans, including children, of their rights to health and education.

The Committee regretted that Ireland's approach to the rights of the child appeared to be somewhat fragmented, as there was no comprehensive national policy which fully incorporated the principles and provisions of the Convention. It recommended that the Government of Ireland take immediate steps to tackle the problem of child poverty and make all possible efforts to ensure that all families had adequate resources and facilities. The panel also recommended that an independent monitoring body, such as an Ombudsperson, be established to adequately address children's rights violations.

Among factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Committee noted the specificity of the nature of the country, its geographical configuration comprising 607 islands, and a number of different and isolated communities in relation to a relatively small population, seen in the context of changes in

the economic structures. It expressed its concern, among other things, about domestic legislation which did not fully conform to the provisions and principles of the Convention. It was also concerned about the absence of laws regulating child labour and providing for a minimum age for employment.

During the session, the Committee held discussions on its cooperation with United Nations specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations. It discussed sexual exploitation of children, promotion of child health and a plan of action for children with disabilities.

At its next session, from 18 May to 5 June 1998, the Committee is scheduled to review reports from Hungary, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Fiji, Japan, Maldives and Ecuador.

Conclusions and Recommendations on Country Reports

The Committee cited among positive aspects in the report of Libya the range of services provided by the State in the field of health and education. It noted that education was completely free-of-charge, and that primary school attendance was nearly universal. The Committee further noted that health services were free for all children; breastfeeding had reached the level of 91 per cent; and that a range of specialized services and facilities existed for persons with disabilities, including children.

Among factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention, the Committee noted that the United Nations Security Council's imposition of an aerial embargo on the State party had adversely affected the economy and many aspects of the daily life of its citizens, thereby impeding the full enjoyment of Libyans, including children, of their rights to health and education.

The panel cited concern that domestic legislation was not in full conformity with the principles and provisions of the Convention.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that:

-- The Government review its legislation with the aim of reforming it to conform fully with the Convention;

-- Further steps be taken by the State party to strengthen coordination between the various Government bodies involved in children's rights;

-- The Government consider designing and implementing a special plan of action for children which had a comprehensive approach to children's rights;

-- Greater efforts be made to ensure that the provisions of the Convention were widely known and understood by both adults and children;

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-- The system of data collection be reviewed, with the view to incorporate all the areas covered by the Convention;

-- The Government consider the introduction of a number of policies and programmes that guarantee implementation of the existing legislation through adequate services, remedies and rehabilitation programmes;

-- The State party abolish the use of the term "illegitimate children" in reference to children born out of wedlock in legislation, policies, programmes, regulations and administrative instructions;

-- Adequate measures be taken to ensure the protection and enjoyment of rights by non-citizens who were under the jurisdiction of the State party;

-- Further studies be conducted in relation to the widespread chronic malnutrition or stunting and diarrhoea;

-- The Government take all appropriate measures with the aim of prohibiting corporal punishment at home; and

-- Research be undertaken on the issue of domestic violence and child abuse, and on the situation of child labour, including the involvement of children in hazardous work.

Among positive developments noted in the report of Ireland was the commitment of the State party to adopting further measures for the implementation of the rights of the child as recognized in the Convention. The Committee noted the recent efforts undertaken for legal reform and welcomed the planned constitutional revision for the incorporation of the principles and provisions of the Convention.

The Committee regretted that Ireland's approach to the rights of the child appeared to be somewhat fragmented, as there was no comprehensive national policy which fully incorporated the principles and provisions of the Convention.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that:

-- Appropriate measures be taken to accelerate the implementation of recommendations of the Constitutional Review Group for inclusion of all the principles and provisions of the Convention;

-- The State party should take further steps to ensure that the Convention was fully incorporated as part of the domestic law;

-- The Government consider ratifying the International Convention on All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention Against Torture and Other

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Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption of 1993;

-- The State take immediate steps to tackle the problem of child poverty and make all possible efforts to ensure that all families had adequate resources and facilities;

-- The establishment of an independent monitoring body, such as an Ombudsperson, to adequately address children's rights violations be considered;

-- A comprehensive national strategy for children be adopted;

-- The system of data collection and development of indicators be adjusted;

-- Efforts to develop a closer relationship with non-governmental organizations be continued and strengthened;

-- Wider awareness and understanding of the principles and provisions of the Convention be created;

-- The Government strengthen its efforts to ensure that children from vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including children belonging to the "Traveller Community", benefit from the positive measures aimed at facilitating access to education, housing and health services;

-- The World Health Assembly resolution on infant feeding be implemented;

-- Programmes to facilitate active participation of children with disabilities be developed; and

-- Appropriate measures be taken to prohibit and eliminate the use of corporal punishment within the family environment.

The Committee cited among positive aspects in the report of the Federated States of Micronesia the draft legislation on sexual abuse and exploitation of children which was presently being considered by Congress.

Among factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention, the Committee noted the specificity of the nature of the Federation, its geographical configuration comprising 607 islands, and a number of different and isolated communities in relation to a relatively small population, seen in the context of changes in the economic structures.

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The panel expressed its concern, among other things, about the domestic legislation which did not fully conform with the provisions and principles of the Convention. It was also concerned about the absence of laws regulating child labour and providing for a minimum age for employment.

The Committee recommended, among other things that:

-- The Government initiate a comprehensive review of the existing legislation, both at national and State levels;

-- Appropriate measures be undertaken, including awareness raising campaigns, to harmonize customary law and practices with the principles and provisions of the Convention;

-- A national plan of action be enacted;

-- The State party accede to other major international human rights treaties, especially those related to children;

-- The President's National Advisory Council for Children be provided with adequate resources, both financial and human;

-- Further cooperation with non-governmental organization be developed;

-- A comprehensive system of collecting desegregated data be developed;

-- Efforts to make the principles and provisions of the Convention widely known by adults and children alike be strengthened;

-- Efforts in providing training to professional groups working with and for children be continued;

-- Cooperation with non-governmental organizations be strengthened;

-- A study be undertaken with the view to adopt all measures, including legal ones, to protect children from harmful effects of the print and audiovisual media;

-- Appropriate measures be taken to prevent and combat ill-treatment and sexual abuse of children;

-- The legislation on adoption as well as the practice of customary adoption be brought into conformity with the principles of the Convention;

-- Efforts in combatting malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency be continued by seeking further technical assistance from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme.

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Convention on Rights of 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.

A conference of States parties has endorsed efforts to amend the Convention in order to increase the membership of the Committee, while the General Assembly has expressed support for the working group of the Commission on Human Rights on a draft optional protocol to the treaty related to the involvement of children in armed conflict.

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States Parties The number of States parties which have ratified or acceded to the Convention has reached 191. The countries are as follow: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Denmark, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia and Lebanon. Also, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niue, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 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 States parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee: Francesco Paolo Fulci, of Italy; Judith Karp, of Israel; Youri Kolosov, of the Russian Federation; Sandra P. Mason of Barbados; Nafsiah Mboi, of Indonesia; Esther Margaret Queen Mokhuane, of South Africa; Awa N'deye Ouedraogo, of Burkina Faso; Lisbet Palme, of Sweden; Ghassan Salim Rabah, of Lebanon; and Marilia Sardenberg Zelner Gonçalves, of Brazil. The Chairperson of the Committee is Ms. Mason, of Barbados. Mrs. Karp, of Israel; Mr. Kolosov, of the Russian Federation; and Mr. Rabah, of Lebanon are Vice-Chairpersons. Ms. Mboi, of Indonesia is the Rapporteur.

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For information media. Not an official record.