jueves, octubre 06, 2016

Children's Rights and the Environment: Day of General Discussion 2016:

On Friday 23 September, CRIN attended the Committee on the Rights of the Child's Day of General Discussion (DGD) on the topic of “Children's Rights and the Environment”
The DGD is organised once every two years to foster a deeper understanding of the content and implications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as they relate to specific articles or topics.
The participants present on the day took part in two working groups, with one focusing on 'Children's exposure to environmental toxicants' and the other on 'Children and the effects of environmental degradation'. Both panels included experts in children's rights, the environment, and several children who were invited to speak about their rights, activism and the state of the environment in their countries.
During the lunch break the CRIN team also attended a side event on 'The Unsound Management of Chemicals and the Rights of the Child', hosted by the permanent mission of Uruguay and co-sponsored by CRIN and Terres Des Hommes.

Human Rights Council

The Human Rights Council held its 33rd session from 13 to 30 September. For more information on the session, you can refer to the programme of work, view the reports for the session, and read summaries of the meetings that have taken place. Other information can be found on the homepage of the Human Rights Council website. Below is a summary of the developments concerning children’s rights.

Youth and human rights

The Council held a panel discussion on Youth and Human Rights, following the adoption of a resolution on the same theme in June, to discuss the exercise of human rights by young people. The Envoy of the Secretary General on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, said in a video message that significant gaps remained in human rights protection for youth, including access to political rights, the right to seek health services, and the right to education. He recalled that the first ever organised Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law will focus on “Widening the Democratic Space: the role of youth in public decision-making”. Johanna Nyman, President of the European Youth Forum, urged the Council to call for the preparation of a report that would map the obstacles that young people face in accessing their rights. She also suggested the establishment of a Special Procedure on the human rights of young people, such as an Independent Expert or Special Rapporteur.

Public budgeting and children’s rights

The session also saw the launch of the new General comment No. 19 of the Committee on the rights of the child on public budgeting for the realisation of children’s rights. During an event organised by children's rights organisations, the States which are party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child were reminded of their obligation to invest in children’s rights and to make all the rights enshrined in the Convention a reality. Professor Jorge Cardona, a Committee member, stressed the principles that need to guide public budgeting for children’s rights: effectiveness, efficiency, equity, transparency, sustainability. For a short presentation on the General comment, see the video produced by Child Rights Connect.

Violence against children

A side event was held to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the UN Study on Violence against children (UN Study) and examine the main achievements made since the launch of the study in 2006. Panelists discussed emerging challenges and opportunities for accelerating progress towards the elimination of all forms of violence against children in the context of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the past ten years, 51 States introduced legislation to ban corporal punishment in all settings, including in the home, the latest States being France and Paraguay. A representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), presented the new 2016-2020 strategy of the Global partnership to End violence against Children and explained that the Partnership aimed to: 1) build and sustain political will to achieve the SDGs; 2) accelerate action at the national and local level, and 3) strengthen the collaboration between countries, civil society and other stakeholders.

Indigenous women and girls

The Council held its half-day annual discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples, focusing on the causes and consequences of violence against indigenous women and girls, including those with disabilities. Adam Abdelmoula, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, said that indigenous women and girls who had suffered violence faced too many barriers in accessing justice, including sheer discrimination or mistrust in the judicial system. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, urged States to develop mechanisms that allowed indigenous women and girls to pursue other means of recourse against violence if they were unable to obtain support and access to justice within indigenous communities.

Commissions of inquiry

In a resolution on the human rights situation in Burundi, the Council decided to create for a period of one year a commission of inquiry. The Commission will conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in the country since the eruption of violence following the disputed candidacy of President Nkurunziza in April 2015. The Commission will also identify alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi with a view to ensuring full accountability.  
Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syriasaid that six years into the Syrian conflict and five years into the Commission’s work, the Commission’s ability to access information sources was as critical as ever. Presenting the Commission’s latest report, he stressed that children remained one of the groups most vulnerable to human rights violations. The Commission found that boys have been recruited to fight and many children attempted to leave the country on their own, but instead of safety some found themselves being held abroad for weeks in unsanitary detention cells.  

Special procedures

Human rights and toxics
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics (SR), Mr. Baskut Tuncak, warned during the biennial Day of General Discussion that thewidespread childhood exposure to toxics and pollution has triggered a ‘silent pandemic’. In his annual report the SR reminded States and businesses that they have an obligation to prevent children from being exposed to toxics and pollution, and that myriad rights are violated when States and businesses fail to prevent the exposure of children to toxics and pollution. He also stressed that children are arguably the most vulnerable to toxics and pollution, as they are completely defenseless in their early years. They are impacted in ways in which adults are not, exposed at higher levels than adults, and can be born pre-polluted through toxic chemicals found in their mother’s body.

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia

The SR focused her annual report on marginalised groups, using discrimination as a lens to view the prevailing human rights situation. Her report noted that continued efforts are needed to reach the most vulnerable groups, including children, demonstrated by a lack of progress in reaching targets on child labour and child malnutrition. A number of other key children's rights issues were also addressed, including the detention of children with medical needs and psychosocial disabilities with adults and in poorly equipped facilities, the failure to include indigenous culture and traditions in school curriculums, and the need for Cambodia to improve secondary school enrolment and completion rates.

Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia
The report of the Independent Expert (IE) on the situation in Somalia highlighted the progress around the political, security, national and State-building processes in Somalia and welcomed the accession by the State to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, major challenges around the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and other minorities were raised. The IE warned about the impact of children being recruited by armed groups and while some have been captured and subsequently transferred to rehabilitation facilities, many remain in detention and some have even been sentenced to death.

Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic
The IE’s annual report notes that the situation for children in Central African Republic remains worrying as they continue to be victims of violence, sexual violence and are recruited by armed groups. Many children continue to be kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and are being used to carry stolen goods or for other support roles, while abducted girls are often kept as sex slaves. The IE encouraged the establishment of rehabilitation centres for children in conflict with the law.

Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery including its causes and consequences  

The SR’s annual report focused on the issue of debt bondage. The SR highlighted that children are particularly vulnerable to debt bondage and in such situations can be vulnerable to additional rights violations, due to their lack of access to education and opportunities to participate in cultural or recreational activities. The SR highlighted the threat of women and children becoming trapped in situations of bonded labour because of debt contracted, or inherited by other members of their family.

Special Rapporteur on sale of children

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. In this context, the SR produced a handbook, a fact sheet and a child friendly version of this fact sheet on her mandate, with the support of Plan International. The fact sheet and its child friendly version are available in the four working languages, English, Spanish French and Arabic.

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