New child rights legal instrument strengthens the right of children to be heard

Date: 14th January 2014
Category: General measures of implementation

The Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communication Procedure which expressly protects the right of children to redress violations of their rights will enter into force in April 2014.

This comes after its 10th ratification by Costa Rica on 14th January 2014, which was necessary for the international procedure to become international law or 'enter into force', i.e., after 10 States have ratified the Protocol.

Under the Third Optional Protocol, individual or groups of children whose Government's have ratified the Protocol will be able to submit complaints about specific violations of their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict, and the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution.

The Third Optional Protocol will strengthen accountability, not only helping to identify gaps in judicial systems for children at the national level but also supporting independent human rights institutions for children, as called for in the UNCRC.

All state parties to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and its three optional protocols have an obligation to make these mechanisms accessible for all children, with special efforts directed at children most vulnerable to rights violations, especially excluded and marginalised children, such as children with disabilities, indigenous and minority children.

The UK Government must ratify the Optional Protocol in order for children and young people in Scotland to be able to access this critical instrument. The Scottish Government has welcomed the Optional Protocol in principle and "would be minded to offer measured support for its signature and ratification in the future". Together is urging the Scottish Government to step up its efforts for UK ratification of Optional Protocol 3 to allow access to justice and the means of redress for children's rights violations. We want Scotland to lead the way in the UK by responding positively to international treaties by being the jurisdiction in the UK to push for ratification.