COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD TO HOLD THIRTY-FIFTH SESSION IN GENEVA

HR/4721
8 January 2004

COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD TO HOLD THIRTY-FIFTH SESSION IN GENEVA

08/01/2004
Press Release
HR/4721


Committee on the Rights of the Child

BACKGROUND RELEASE


COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD TO HOLD THIRTY-FIFTH SESSION IN GENEVA


FROM 12 TO 30 JANUARY 2004


Reports from Indonesia, Guyana, Armenia, Germany,

Netherlands, India, Papua New Guinea, Slovenia, Japan to be Considered


(Reissued as received.)


GENEVA, 8 January (UN Information Service) -- The Committee on the Rights of the Child will meet in Geneva from 12 to 30 January 2004 to review the promotion and protection of children's rights in Indonesia, Guyana, Armenia, Germany, the Netherlands (including Aruba), India, Papua New Guinea, Slovenia and Japan.


The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which gives a comprehensive collection of children's rights the force of international law.  The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 192 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention.  The treaty is the most widely accepted international human rights instrument.  Only Somalia and the United States have not ratified it.  States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present periodic reports on national efforts to give effect to children's rights.


The Committee’s 18 Experts will start the session by approving their agenda and programme of work. 


On Friday, 23 January, the Committee will hold an informal consultation with States parties to the Convention, during which it will discuss issues relating to its working methods.  This consultation is meant as a follow-up to a similar consultation that took place in January 2003.


Concluding Remarks on Reports by States Parties Previously Reviewed


Of the nine countries whose reports are being considered this session, seven have had reports previously reviewed.  Guyana and Papua New Guinea are presenting initial reports.


In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Indonesia, which was reviewed in September 1993, the Committee noted with satisfaction the importance the State party attached to the Committee's advice and assistance on measures to be taken to improve the implementation of the rights of the child.  The Committee also noted the steps taken to give high priority to children's concerns.  The Committee expressed deep concern at the extent of the reservations made on the Convention by the State party; and felt that the broad and imprecise nature of those reservations raised serious concern as to their compatibility with the object and purposes of the Convention.  The Committee encouraged the Government of Indonesia to undertake a review of child-related laws so as to ensure their conformity with the provisions of the Convention.


Concerning the initial report of Armenia, which was reviewed in February 1997, the Committee welcomed the adoption of the 1996 Rights of the Child Act, which demonstrated the commitment of the State party to its obligations under the Convention.  It also welcomed the establishment of the Human Rights Commission and the Gender Commission.  The Committee was concerned that the lack of administrative coordination and cooperation at the national and local levels was a serious problem in the implementation of the Convention.  The Committee encouraged the State party to establish a statutory, independent national commission for children with the mandate of, among other things, regularly monitoring and evaluating progress in the implementation of the Convention.


With respect to the initial report of Germany, which was taken up in November 1995, the Committee acknowledged the determination of the State party to prevent and combat xenophobic tendencies and manifestations of racism.  The Government was to be commended for the extensive efforts undertaken in the implementation of a country-wide campaign to prevent and combat such phenomenon.  Principal subjects of concern included the extent of the declarations made by the State party to the Convention.  Several of the declarations made raised concern as to their implications and compatibility with the full enjoyment of the rights recognized by the Convention.  The Committee suggested that the State party give further consideration to the establishment of a permanent and effective coordination mechanism on the rights of the child at the federal, land and local levels.


After considering the initial report of the Netherlands in October 1999, the Committee welcomed the commitment and efforts of the State party in achieving a commendable degree of enjoyment by children in the country of their rights through the establishment of infrastructure, comprehensive policies, legislative and other measures.  It also commended the State party for its continued commitment to the rights of the child in its development assistance programmes.  Also commended were the State party's efforts to combat the phenomenon of child-sex tourism.  The Committee expressed concern that measures and policies developed by the State party for implementation at the provincial and municipal levels were not sufficiently child rights-based.  The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party undertake breastfeeding promotion campaigns, stressing its advantages and the negative impact of substitutes.


Concerning the initial report of India, which was considered in March 1997, the Committee noted among positive aspects the existence of a broad range of constitutional and legislative provisions and institutions for the protection of human rights and children's rights.  The Committee was deeply concerned at the widely disparate levels of enjoyment of the rights in the Convention by children living in different states, living in rural areas, living in slums and belonging to different castes, tribal and indigenous groups.  The Committee encouraged the State party to ensure the enforcement of protective laws against the persistence of discriminatory social attitudes and harmful traditional practices towards girls.  It also encouraged the State party to continue its efforts to carry out comprehensive public education campaigns to prevent and combat gender discrimination, particularly within the family.


With regard to the initial report of Slovenia, considered in October

1996, the Committee welcomed the establishment of the Commission on Child Abuse; the adoption in 1995 of the National Plan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children; and the willingness of the Government to collaborate with non-governmental organizations.  Principal subjects of concern included the lack of an integrated and systematic monitoring mechanism for all areas covered by the Convention, and in relation to all groups of children, especially those affected by the consequences of economic transition.  The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party strengthen mechanisms to enhance the coordination of governmental policies, as well as those of central and local authorities, in the field of children’s rights, with a view to eliminating possible disparities or discrimination in the implementation of the Convention.


And regarding the initial report of Japan, which was considered in May 1998, the Committee noted among positive aspects the efforts by the State party in the field of law reform.  It welcomed the State party's initiative to convene a “Children's Diet” as a means of realizing an important dimension of article 12 of the Convention.  The Committee was concerned at the absence of an independent body with a mandate to monitor the implementation of the rights of children.  It was also concerned that legislation did not protect children from discrimination on all grounds defined by the Convention.  The Committee recommended, among other things, that the State party adopt all necessary measures, including legal ones, with a view to protecting children from harmful effects, especially in the family, in schools and in childcare and other institutions.


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 drafting the Convention 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 that States shall ensure the maximum child survival and development; that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and that 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 distinction of any kind, and shall ensure that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being.  In addition, States shall 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 cultures, religions and languages.


In May 2000, the General Assembly adopted by consensus the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  The Optional Protocols entered into force in 2002.


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 State parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee:  Ibrahim Abdul Aziz Al-Sheddi (Saudi Arabia), Ghalia Mohd Bin Hamad Al-Thani (Qatar), Joyce Aluoch (Kenya), Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand), Luigi Citarella (Italy), Jacob Egbert Doek (the Netherlands), Kamel Filali (Algeria),  Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Hatem Kotrane (Tunisia), Lothar Friedrich Krappmann (Germany), Yanghee Lee (Republic of Korea), Norberto Liwski (Argentina), Rosa Maria Ortiz (Paraguay), Awa N'Deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Marilia Sardenberg (Brazil), Lucy Smith (Norway); Marjorie Taylor (Jamaica), and Nevena Vuckovic-Sahovic (Serbia and Montenegro).


Mr. Doek is the Chairperson.  Ms. Aluoch, Ms. Chutikul and Ms. Sardenberg are Vice Chairpersons, and Ms. Khattab is the Rapporteur.


Tentative Timetable for Consideration of Reports


The following is a tentative timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:


Tuesday, 13 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Indonesia (CRC/C/65/Add.23)


Wednesday, 14 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Guyana (CRC/C/8/Add.47)


Thursday, 15 September:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Armenia (CRC/C/93/Add.6)


Friday, 16 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Germany (CRC/C/83/Add.7)


Monday, 19 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

The Netherlands (CRC/C/117/Add.1) (including Aruba -- CRC/C/117/Add.2) 


Wednesday, 21 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

India (CRC/C/93/Add.5)


Thursday, 22 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Papua New Guinea (CRC/C/28/Add.20)


Monday, 26 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Slovenia (CRC/C/70/Add.19)


Wednesday, 28 January:  10 a.m.-1 p.m. / 3 p.m.-6 p.m.

Japan (CRC/C/104/Add.2)


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For information media. Not an official record.