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UN children’s complaints mechanism comes into force

28/05/2014

On 14 April 2014 the third Optional Protocol (OP3) to the United Nation’s (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) entered into force. This will enable children to complain to the UN on human rights violations and establishes an international complaints procedure for violations of child rights contained in the CRC, the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), as well as the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC).

How does the complaint mechanism work?

With the OP3 entering into force on 14 April 2014, children can complain to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) about the violation of their rights in countries where the mechanism has been ratified (currently: Albania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand). Three mechanisms to challenge violations of children’s rights are available: individual complaints, inquiries (for serious or widespread violations) and inter-state communications enabling children to bring complaints about violations if they have not been fully resolved on national level. Before the adaption of OP3 CRC, the CRC was the only core human rights treaty that did not include a communication mechanism. OP3 now protects a broader range of children’s rights than any other international mechanism.

Campaign for ratifying OP3 and toolkit on the complaints procedure

The "Ratify OP3 Coalition", which includes children’s rights organisations from around the world and also European actors such as Eurochild, has an ongoing campaign which calls for a full ratification of OP3 in order to bring the complaints procedure into full effect on a global scale. The Coalition launched a new website with many detailed information on the OP3 and an advocacy toolkit for download. Furthermore the Child Rights Information Network’s provided an online toolkit on the complaints procedure, which sets out step by step explanation of the Who, What, When, Where and How of the CRC complaints mechanism.

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