[6 December 2013] - 

Slovakia has become the latest country to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure (OP3). The State ratified the treaty on 3 December.

The treaty, which is the third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), establishes a channel of complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for children whose rights have been violated, for example through violence, sexual exploitation, or lack of access to education. If violations cannot be addressed effectively by domestic remedies, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will be able to examine them.

Ratification of the OP3 will allow children or their representatives to lodge a complaint with the Committee, the 18-member independent experts' panel that monitors implementation by State parties of the CRC and any OPs to which they are a party. Currently there is no scope for children to bring complaints directly to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Slovakia now joins the ranks of Thailand, Gabon, Bolivia, Germany, Spain, Albania, Portugal and Montenegro in having ratified the treaty. Forty-four states have signed the Optional Protocol. However, a complaints mechanism for the CRC will only come into force with its tenth ratification. Though it is not clear when this will be, CRIN did report in October 2013 that the parliament of Costa Rica had approved the bill to ratify the OP3.  

CRIN has produced a toolkit explaining how the complaints procedure works, which includes an annotated guide, as well as a comparative guide to the other international communications procedures of the UN. The toolkit is available to download in Arabic, English, French and Russian. To put the CRC complaints mechanism in the wider human rights context, CRIN has also produced a chart comparing all of the international communications procedures at the UN.

Furthermore, a child-friendly guide to the complaints procedure is available from the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children. Entitled ‘Raising Understanding among Children and Young People on the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure’, the guide aims to increase children’s understanding about their rights and enhance their confidence to speak up and seek support. You can download the guide here.



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