Memorandum submitted by the United Nation's
Children's Fund (UK) (UNICEF)
On 20 November 2009, the Convention on the Rights
of the Child (CRC) turns 20. A whole generation of children and
young people has grown up under the provisions of the CRC. In
many countries, rich as well as poor, the Convention has strengthened
or even set in motion process of social change. All but two countries
(USA and Somalia) have ratified the CRC, thus laying the foundation
for a world where all children can enjoy their rights to survival,
development, protection and participation. During the part 20
years, the push for children's rights has grown into a real child
rights movement, leading in significant improvements in the lives
of millions of children. Not all progress ca be directly attributed
to the CRC, but the Convention's guiding principles such as the
principle of no-discrimination have led to a fundamental shift:
It's no longer at the discretion of States to decide which children
should be included in social programmes. It has become their obligation
to reach out to all children. Child rights are for all children.
The Convention sets out these rights in 54 articles and two Optional
Protocols (Sale of Children & Children in Armed Conflict).
Article 45 of the Convention gives a special role
to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in implementation
of the provisions of the Convention. The most important element
of UNICEF's approach to the implementation of the Convention is
the integration of the principles of the Convention into country
programmes of cooperation around the world.
Implementing the CRC is first and foremost a
government's obligation. So how does the UK government fare?
The UK Government periodic report on its implementation
of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was discussed
in a public meeting of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
in Geneva on 22 September 2008. After the discussion with the
UK Government delegation, the Committee agreed, in a closed meeting
held on 3 October, on written Concluding Observations which include
suggestions and recommendations.
Also, on 23 September 2008 there was a meeting
of the UN Committee and a discussion with the UK delegation about
implementation of the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict.
The Concluding Observations contain the following
aspects: introduction; positive aspects (including progress achieved);
factors and difficulties impeding the implementation; principal
subjects for concern; suggestions and recommendations addressed
to the State party.
The UK delegation made an impressive performance
on 22 and 23 September. More importantly, the Committee welcomed
progress achieved and the serious commitment the UK Government
attach to the UNCRC. On the other hand, the Concluding Observations
identify a number of factors and difficulties in the implementation
of the CRC and put forward 124 recommendations.
UNICEF UK would like to see that the pace in
implementation of the Convention is accelerated and calls on the
Joint Committee on Human Rights to play its role in making sure
that the momentum is kept.
UNICEF UK perceives the Concluding Observations
as an excellent platform for changes in legislation, policy and
practice at UK and devolved nations level and will be working
together with the UK Government to implement changes.
THE UNICEF UK PERSPECTIVE
1. Incorporation of the CRC into UK law:
Measures to bring UK legislation in line with the UNCRC and incorporation
of the principles and provisions of the CRC into domestic legislation
(paragraphs 10 and 11).
2. Dissemination: increased Government support
to UNICEF'S Rights Respecting Schools Award' and inclusion of
the CRC in the national curriculum (paragraphs 20 and 21).
3. Training on the CRC of all professional
groups working for and with children, including civil servants
4. Respect for the views of the child in
legislation as well as in practice, including children's meaningful
participation in the public policy making process (paragraphs
32 and 33).
5. Asylum-seeking children and trafficking:
non-discrimination, best interests of the child, appointment of
guardians, child-friendly asylum procedure, safe return, compliance
with international child protection standards (paragraphs 24,
26, 70, 71, and 75).
6. Breastfeeding: full implementation of
the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes
and further promotion of baby-friendly hospitals (paragraphs 58
7. Sexual Health: The Committee recommended
that the UK Government intensify its efforts to provide young
people with appropriate sexual health services and sex and relationship
education in school.
1. That a national plan of action for implementation
of the Concluding Observations is adopted this year. The UK is
taking a so-called "four nations" approach in realisation
of the CRC, but it is important that there is national co-ordination.
2. That a plan of action for implementation of
the Optional Protocol to the CRC on Children in Armed Conflict
is adopted this year.
3. That the Optional Protocol to the CRC
on the Sale of Children, Child Pornography and Child Prostitution
is ratified this year.