IRAQ: Children's Rights in the UN Special Procedures' Reports

Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the reports of the UN Special Procedures. This does not include reports of child specific Special Procedures, such as the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which are available as separate reports.

Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity

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Report by the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons

Visit made from 26 September to 3 October 2010

Issues raised:

Protection: Serious concerns were raised during the universal periodic review of Iraq regarding the security of persons in Iraq generally, widespread impunity and corruption, and inadequate capacity among rule of law institutions The protection needs of IDPs are, however, often more acute due to specific vulnerabilities caused by displacement. As a result of displacement, IDPs may have lost identity documents essential to affording them certain rights, as well as their housing, and are more vulnerable to rape, domestic violence, disappearances and detentions. In a survey of IDPs in 2009, 11 per cent of IDPs (post-2006) reported being targeted due to their religious or political affiliation, 6 per cent simply because they were IDPs, and 30 per cent reported missing family members, including children, as a result of abductions or detention. (Paragraph 37).

Health: During his visit to two such informal settlements in Baghdad, the Representative was struck by the very difficult and precarious living conditions of the IDPs he met there, including overcrowding, inadequate shelters , limited or no access to water and other essential services, such as sanitation and garbage collection. This creates serious health hazards, particularly among children and the elderly. (Paragraph 42).

Education: As regards the right to education, a 2009 UNHCR survey found that, among the IDPs surveyed, an estimated 42 per cent of boys and 47 per cent of girls under 14 years of age did not attend school. Some IDPs, especially those without residency papers and IDPs with whom the Representative met in informal settlements, also report difficulty in enrolling their children in the local schools, owing to a lack of documents and spaces in already overcrowded schools. This appeared to vary significantly between neighbourhoods and schools, however. In the Kurdistan Region, IDPs were especially concerned by the lack of access to Arabic schools in certain towns, the lack of quick-learning curriculums for Kurdish children, and cited that, in Erbil, out of 4,000 IDP children, only 1,000 had access to schools. The Representative notes with concern reports of large numbers of IDP children who have dropped out of school, including because of poverty, the cost of uniforms, transportation and school supplies, or because children leave school to work in order to supplement the family income. The incidence of child labour appears to increase among displaced families the longer displacement lasts. (Paragraph 49).

Report by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq

Visit undertaken from 11- 15/2/2002).

Report E/CN.4/2002/44

Issues raised:

Juvenile delinquency:  The Minister initially referred to the detrimental effect of the embargo on the capacity of his Ministry to carry out the duties it was assigned. Generally, the Minister pointed out, because of the embargo the Ministry had fewer resources to meet the need for social services. The situation of older persons, women and orphans had deteriorated during the past few years owing to the embargo. This situation, according to the Minister, had also led to an increase in crime, especially juvenile delinquency. (Paragraph 42).

Freedom of religion: Two issues of concern were discussed. The first issue related to the fact that children of Christian parents were automatically registered as Muslims if the parents decided to convert to Islam. This issue had initially been resolved following consultations with the Presidency. Although the compromise had been cancelled by the Supreme Court, discussions with the Government were under way and the Christian leaders affirmed their conviction that a compromise would be found. The second issue of concern was the existence of a decree apparently obliging Christian parents to give Arabic names to their children, whereas they wanted to give them Christian names. A dialogue with the Government was taking place on this issue also. (Paragraph 62).

Health: In addition to the meetings and visits requested by the Special Rapporteur, the Government also included in the programme visits to a children’s hospital, a school in Baghdad and an unscheduled visit to a food distribution outlet. A meeting with senior officials from the Ministry of Health was also organized, as requested by the Special Rapporteur. It was repeatedly pointed out that, owing to the embargo, a number of important medical drugs were unavailable. The Ministry of Health provided the Special Rapporteur with a list of orders for medical drugs and medical equipment currently blocked or put on hold by the 661 Sanctions Committee of the Security Council. During the visit to the children’s hospital, the medical doctor in charge explained to the Special Rapporteur that the embargo had a detrimental effect on the health situation in the country, that the percentage of cancer patients had increased substantially since the 1991 war and that certain of the cancer cases could have been cured had certain medicines and equipment been available. The doctor also explained that many instances of chest infection resulted in death because of malnutrition or lack of medicine. (Paragraph 65).


Requested visits


  • SRSG on human rights defenders


  • Working Group on enforced and involuntary disappearances (requested in July 1995)
  • Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers (requestedin 2008)



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