Twenty States sign new Optional Protocol
Date: 2nd March 2012
Category: General measures of implementation, UK 1st periodic review
Twenty States signed the new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a complaints mechanism
during a ceremony on 28 February 2012. Together, alongside other children's rights alliances across the world, is urging governments to sign up to the Optional Protocol.
The third Optional Protocol introduces a complaints procedure to the CRC that will allow children and their representatives to bring rights violations directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child when they have exhausted all domestic remedies.
Slovakia has always been a strong supporter of the initiative, even early on when few States were backing it. The other European signatories to the Optional Protocol are Slovenia, Serbia, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal and Montenegro. The Latin American signatories are Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Costa Rica. Meanwhile Morocco and Mali remain the only two African countries to sign so far, and the Maldives the only Asian country.
Only the beginning
Highlighting that this is only the beginning of the process, Lisa Myers from the NGO Group for the CRC hailed the importance of the new complaints mechanism, saying it sends "a powerful signal of States' commitment to children", adding that "for rights to have meaning, international redress must be available." The Optional Protocol will remain open for signature in New York for other States to sign. Next stage: ratification!
What you can do
To assist national lobbying to encourage your State to ratify the Optional Protocol, the NGO Group for the CRC prepared a sample letter (below), that may be adapted to suit the context of your country, and which you can send to relevant national institutions, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, or high-level individuals.