DCI – Child Rights 5

Defence for Children International

United Nations Convention on the Rights of

the Child

Monitoring and implementation

Within just five years of its adoption, the Convention had been ratified

by almost 90 per cent of the world’s governments. Such a level of adherence to a

treaty in such a short period is unprecedented in the history of international

human rights law. This, together with a degree of public awareness about the

Convention that is probably also unequalled in relation to other international

treaties, has led to very high expectations as to its effects in practice.

Under the implementation mechanism provisions in the Convention itself,

a Committee on the Rights of the Child composed of ten “independent”

experts elected by States Parties (i.e. those that have ratified) monitors

States’ compliance with their obligations on the basis of five-yearly reports

they provide as well as other information made available by reliable sources.

The Committee’s “monitoring” function, however, is balanced by its

clear desire to set the implementation of the Convention in a

non-confrontational framework of constructive dialogue and international

solidarity. This approach responds to two realities: firstly, that monitoring by

the Committee has a limited direct effect as such, because of the absence of

sanctions that can be applied; secondly, that most countries would have little

or no chance of complying with the Convention’s provisions unless provided with

appropriate technical and other assistance. As a result, ratification by a wide

range of countries has been facilitated and maximum potential impact of the

Convention has thereby been greatly assisted.

This “official” implementation procedure itself provides for

some degree of involvement on the part of the non-governmental organisations

(NGOs). To some extent, this is a reflection of the fact that, during the

drafting of the Convention, recognised international NGOs were offered —

and took full advantage of — the possibility of making an active

contribution to the formulation of the text. In addition, and of their own

accord, they undertook a concerted effort to promote awareness of the need for a

Convention in this sphere. In order to carry out these tasks, most of them

became involved in an NGO Group, coordinating their efforts and thereby making

fullest use of their combined experience. Once the Convention had been completed

and had entered into force, this NGO Group reconvened with a view to ensuring

that NGO input into implementation is equally constructive and effective. The

NGO Group is now a privileged partner of the Committee.

Certainly, the Committee relies significantly on NGOs — especially

national organisations and the “national coalitions” that they are

forming in a growing number of countries — not only to provide additional

information to that contained in State reports, but also to disseminate and make

use of the conclusions and recommendations that the Committee prepares after

reviewing those reports.

Even NGOs that have no explicitly “human rights” tradition

and/or no major children’s rights focus now cite the Convention as the basis or

backcloth for their child-related policies. It has also been confirmed as the

framework within which UNICEF programmes are to be conceived from now on. Civil

society is therefore fully engaged in the battle to foster implementation, on an

undoubtedly broader base than for other international treaties.


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