A new legal instrument will soon allow children from 10 countries to complain to a key UN committee if they believe their human rights have been violated.
The optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child received the required 10th ratification from Costa Rica on Tuesday, triggering its entry into force on April 14.
UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children Marta Santos Pais said the “historic” protocol will place “the rights and aspirations of children at the center of the human rights agenda” by giving youngsters the right to seek redress for rights violations for the first time.
Initially, only children from Costa Rica and the nine other countries — Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Slovakia — will be able to submit complaints.
However, Santos Pais said the UN and other organizations will keep promoting the ratification of the protocol by the UN’s 183 other member states.
The convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and ensures children the right to a name, a nationality, an education, the highest possible standards of health, protection from abuse and exploitation and the right to have their views heard.
Two previous optional protocols deal with children in armed conflict, and the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution.
Under the new protocol, children or their representatives will be able to submit complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is composed of 18 independent rights experts who monitor the implementation of the convention and two optional protocols.
The committee will then decide whether to review the case.
If a violation is found, it will recommend that the state concerned take action to remedy the situation and can also ask a state to take interim measures to protect children or prevent any reprisals.