For information only - not an official document.
January 2001
 Background Release


Experts to Examine Reports from Latvia, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia,
Egypt, Lithuania, Lesotho, Saudi Arabia, Palau and Dominican Republic

GENEVA, 5 January (UN Information Service) -- The promotion and protection of children's rights in Latvia, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, Egypt, Lithuania, Lesotho, Saudi Arabia, Palau and the Dominican Republic will be at the top of the agenda as the Committee on the Rights of the Child meets in Geneva from 8 to 26 January 2001.

The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most complete statement of children's rights ever made and the first to give these rights the force of international law. The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 191 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention, a number that makes the treaty the most widely accepted human rights instrument ever. Only Somalia and the United States have not yet ratified it. The States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present and defend reports on how they give effect to children's rights.

During this three-week session, the Committee may also pursue the elaboration of general comments based on the various principles and provisions of the Convention. It is expected to pursue its discussion of ways and areas in which existing cooperation with various relevant bodies could be further strengthened to enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. The panel will also discuss the organization of its future work, as well as the procedure to be followed in the consideration of reports by States parties and their follow-up, including where necessary areas identified for technical assistance.

The Committee is composed of 10 independent experts, although States parties have adopted an amendment to the Convention that would increase the membership to 18 in order to enable the Committee to face a rapidly growing

workload. The amendment will enter into force upon acceptance by a two-thirds majority of States parties.

The Committee will start its work by approving its agenda and programme of work.

Concluding Remarks on Reports of States Parties Previously Reviewed

Of the nine countries whose reports are being considered this session, two have had reports previously reviewed. The other seven are presenting their initial reports.

In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Ethiopia, which was reviewed in January 1997, the Committee noted with appreciation the steps taken since 1991 to set up democratic institutions in the country, and that the Convention, as well as other international treaties dealing with human rights, were incorporated into domestic law. It welcomed the political commitment within the country to improve the situation of children. Principal subjects of concern included a lack of awareness and understanding in the State party of the principles and provisions of the Convention and the lack of adequate mechanisms for the collection of reliable quantitative and qualitative data on the situation of children throughout the country. Concern was also expressed about the negative effects of poverty on the situation of children in Ethiopia. The Committee recommended, among other things, that the Government continue its efforts aimed at promoting awareness and understanding of the principles and provisions of the Convention, and that it provide systematic training on the principles and rights enshrined in the Convention to the professional groups working with and for children. The Committee recommended that budget allocations should be made to the maximum extent of the State party's available resources to give priority to the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights of children.

In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Egypt, which was reviewed in January 1993, the Committee took note of efforts made by the Government of Egypt to secure implementation of the Convention's provisions throughout the country, stating that developments showed that the Government of Egypt took very seriously its obligations under the Convention and was moving toward establishing a firm legal basis for the realization of the rights contained therein. Principal subjects of concern included a pattern of disparity between boys and girls in reality, in particular concerning access to education; the situation of children in rural areas and of disabled children; and the very large number of children between 6 and 14 years of age who were enrolled in the labour force and therefore lacked, wholly or partly, the possibility to go to school. The Committee recommended that the principle of non-discrimination must be vigorously applied. It also suggested that steps should be undertaken to afford adequate protection to disabled children, and

that adequate protection should also be afforded to children in conflict with the law. It said the recommendations of the studies on child labour undertaken with the assistance of the International Labour Organization on the problem of child employment should be implemented and Egyptian legislation on minimum age should be revised.

Timetable for Consideration of Reports

The following is the timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:

Tuesday, 9 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Latvia (CRC/C/11/Add.22)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Wednesday, 10 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Liechtenstein (CRC/C/61/Add.1)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m "
Thursday, 11 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Ethiopia (CRC/C/70/Add.7)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Monday, 15 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Egypt (CRC/C/65/Add.9)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Wednesday, 17 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Lithuania (CRC/C/11/Add.21)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Thursday, 18 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Lesotho (CRC/C/11/Add.20)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Friday, 19 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saudi Arabia (CRC/C/61/Add.2)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Tuesday, 23 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Palau (CRC/C/51/Add.3)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "
Wednesday, 24 January 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dominican Republic (CRC/C/8/Add.40)
  3 p.m.-6 p.m. "

Convention on Rights of Child

The General Assembly adopted the Convention unanimously on 20 November 1989, 30 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The Convention makes States which accept it legally accountable for their actions towards children. Work on its drafting began in 1979 -- the International Year of the Child -- at the Commission on Human Rights.

The Convention was opened for signature on 26 January 1990. That day, 61 countries signed it, a record first-day response. It entered into force just seven months later, on 2 September 1990.

Ratifying the Convention entails reviewing national legislation to make sure it is in line with the provisions of the treaty. The Convention stipulates, among other things, that: every child has the right to life, and States shall ensure to the maximum child survival and development; every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and, when courts, welfare institutions or administrative authorities deal with children, the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration. The Convention recognizes the right of children to be heard.

Furthermore, States shall ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinctions of any kind; that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being; States should facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel

into, or out of, their territories; and States shall protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation.

Also according to the Convention, disabled children shall have the right to special treatment, education and care; primary education shall be free and compulsory and discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18; no child under 15 should take any part in hostilities and children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection; and children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own culture, religion and language.

In May 2000, the General Assembly adopted by consensus the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The Optional Protocols shall enter into force three months after the deposit of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession.

Committee Membership

The Convention requires that the members of the Committee have a high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of children's rights. The following experts, nominated by the States parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee: Jacob Doek (The Netherlands), Amina El Guindi (Egypt), Francesco Paolo Fulci (Italy), Judith Karp (Israel), Nafsiah Mboi (Indonesia), Esther Margaret Queen Mokhuane (South Africa), Awa N'deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Ghassan Salim Rabah (Lebanon), Marilia Sardenberg Gonçalves (Brazil), and Elizabeth Tigerstedt-Tähtalä (Finland).

The Chairperson is Mrs. Ouedraogo. Vice Chairpersons are Mrs. Sardenberg, Mrs. Mokhuane, and Mr. Rabah. Mr. Doek is Rapporteur.

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