Committee on the Rights of the Child: State Reporting Procedure

Applies to/Se aplica a

State practice
State law
Individual cases
For Urgent Action
Only under 18-s
A

Summary:

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is a treaty-based mechanism which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (see: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm) and its Optional Protocols on the Sale of Children (OP1, see: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc-sale.htm) and on Children in Armed Conflict (OP2, see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc-conflict.htm) by State Parties. This is done through regular reports from States Parties (for States Parties to the CRC see http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Treaties.aspx?id=4&subid=A&lang=en, for OP1 see http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Treaties.aspx?id=4&subid=A&lang=en and for OP2 see http://treaties.un.org/Pages/Treaties.aspx?id=4&subid=A&lang=en). The reports are examined through a dialogue between the Committee and representatives of the State. During this dialogue Committee members may raise and child rights issues, including rights not addressed in the state reports. After the dialogue, the Committee produces Concluding Observations, which outline recommendations, and comments on the State's practice and legislation.

The Committee will only address issues related to under-18s. For States Parties to the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict, the Committee addresses issues such as recruitment of minors, or excessive military recruitment efforts in schools. Although article 14 of the Convention guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, this mechanism is less likely to be directly relevant in relation to the right to conscientious objection to military service, but can be useful to highlight issues of recruitment of minors, irregular recruitment, and military in schools.

1. Likely results from use of the mechanism

During the examination of the State's report, members of the Committee may also raise issue related to recruitment and military in schools. If the Committee comes to the conclusion that the State's practice does not comply with the CRC, it will outline this in its Concluding Observations in the form of concerns and recommendations. When the State reappears in front of the Committee, the Committee will be highly likely to ask the State about improvements it has made.
The Concluding Observations of the CRC will also form part of the OHCHR compilation for the Universal Periodic Review.

2. To which States does the mechanism apply?

The mechanism applies to those States who have ratified the CRC. The Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict only applies to those States who have ratified it.

3. Who can submit information?

Anyone – including NGOs and individuals.

4. When to submit information?


Information for the List of Issues

About three to four months before the session at which a State report will be examined, the pre-sessional working group of the Committee convenes a private meeting with UN agencies and bodies, NGOs and other competent bodies such as national human rights and youth organisations, which have submitted additional information to the Committee. This discussion leads to the List of Issues, which will be sent to the State, who will be requested to provide answers in writing in advance of the session.
It is therefore important that additional information is provided well in advance of the session, and it is recommended to submit a report no later than six month before.

Information for standard reporting

In their report, NGOs should refer to the State's reports (there are usually separate reports for the Convention on the Rights of the Child and each Optional Protocol), and highlight errors and omissions in the information provided by the State. The State reports are public and accessible online at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/sessions.htm.

Once the State report is available, check online when the report is likely to be considered: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/sessions.htm.

5. Any special advice for making a submission to this mechanism?

Structure of the Report

The NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (NGO Group) has published detailed guides on reporting to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. These can be found at:

Introduction

The introduction should include a presentation of the NGO (including the contact details) submitting the report and relevant information about the general context, such as historical context, specific situations (e.g. armed conflict or socio-economic context), without repeating information provided in the State report.

Substantive part

It can be advisable that the NGO report follows the structure of the State report, in the form of a section-by-section analysis of the report. The report should comment on and correct information provided by the State, and explain the position of the NGO.

It is important to analyse the extent to which law, policy and practice of the State comply or not with the provisions of the Optional Protocol. While State reports are often very legalistic, an NGO report should provide information on the practical implementation or lack thereof. It should also reflect on the experience of children/under-18s throughout the country, including differences in legislation, administration of services, culture and environment of different jurisdictions.

It is always a good idea to refer to previous Concluding Observations of the Committee, and their implementation or lack thereof.

Conclusions and recommendations

It can be a good idea to include a list of questions the NGO wants the Committee to ask to the Government. Some NGOs include a list of concrete recommendations, but this is a matter of political approach.

6. What happens to the submission (how long will it take)?

Following the submission of the periodic or initial State report, which will be published on the website of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/sessions.htm), NGOs have the opportunity to submit additional information or their own reports. This should usually be done between six months and two years before the examination of a State's report.

About three to four months before the examination of the State report a meeting of a pre-sessional working group of the Committee on the Rights of the Child will draw up a List of Issues (see under 4.). States might choose to provide written answers to questions raised in the List of Issues in advance of the examination of the report.

The examination of the State's report happens in form of a dialogue between the members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the delegation of the State concerned. Following the session, the Committee will draw of its Concluding Observations, which also include recommendations.

7. History of the use of the mechanism

This mechanisms has not been used for conscientious objection to military service itself, but has been used successfully to highlight issues of recruitment of under-18s, including aggressive recruitment by Armed Forces in schools.

Contact Details: 
Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Human Rights Treaties Division (HRTD) Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais Wilson - 52, rue des Pâquis CH-1201 Geneva (Switzerland) Tel.: +41 22 917 91 41 Fax: +41 22 917 90 08 E-mail: crc@ohchr.org
Further Reading: 
Concluding Observations
Title Date
Concluding Observations: Australia 11/07/2012

17. The Committee notes that the age of voluntary recruitment into the ADF is 17 years.
18. In order to promote and strengthen the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard, the Committee encourages the State party to review and raise the minimum age of voluntary recruitment into the ADF to 18 years of age.(...)
20. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Review the operations of its cadet scheme to ensure that activities in such programmes are age appropriate, particularly with respect to military-like activities, and establish clear guidelines on the age requirement for such activities, taking due consideration of the mental and physical effects of such activities on the child;
(b) Ensure effective and independent monitoring of the cadet scheme to safeguard the rights and welfare of the child enrolled in the cadet forces and ensure that children, parents and other groups are adequately informed about the recruitment process and are able to present concerns or complaints;
(c) Prohibit the handling and use of firearms and other explosives for all children under the age of 18 years in line with the spirit of the Optional Protocol;
(d) Ensure that young persons from different linguistic backgrounds and/or from marginalized populations are not overly targeted for recruitment and put in place measures for informed consent;
(e) Include information on how the activities of the cadet forces fit with the aims of education, as recognized in article 29 of the Convention and in the Committee’s general comment No. 1 (2001) on the aims of education.

Concluding Observations: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 17/10/2008

The Committee encourages the State party to consider reviewing its position and raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard.(...)
15. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces and ensure that it does not occur in a manner which specifically targets ethnic minorities and children of low-income families;
(b) Ensure that parents are included from the outset and during the entire process of recruitment and enlistment.

Concluding Observations: United States of America 25/06/2008

13. The Committee, while taking note of the amended policy of the State party to avoid direct participation in hostilities of members of the armed forces who are under 18 years, is nevertheless concerned that the State party failed to prevent the deployment of volunteer recruits below the age of 18 years to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
14. The Committee recommends the State party ensure that its policy and practice on deployment is consistent with the provisions of the Optional Protocol. (…)
16. The Committee encourages the State party to review and raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote and strengthen the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard.
17. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that recruitment does not occur in a manner which specifically targets racial and ethnic minorities and children of low-income families and other vulnerable socio-economic groups. The Committee underlines the importance that voluntary recruits under the age of 18 are adequately informed of their rights, including the possibility of withdrawing from enlistment through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP).
18. The Committee furthermore recommends that the content of recruitment campaigns be closely monitored and that any reported irregularity or misconduct by recruiters should be investigated and, when required, sanctioned. In order to reduce the risk of recruiter misconduct, the Committee recommends the State party to carefully consider the impact quotas for voluntary recruits have on the behaviour of recruiters. Finally, the Committee recommends the State party to amend the No Child Left Behind Act (20 U.S.C., sect. 7908) in order to ensure that it is not used for recruitment purposes in a manner that violates the children’s right to privacy or the rights of parents and legal guardians. The Committee also recommends the State party to ensure that all parents are adequately informed about the recruitment process and aware of their right to request that schools withhold information from recruiters unless the parents’ prior consent has been obtained. (…)
20. The Committee recommends the State party ensure that any military training for children take into account human rights principles and that the educational content be periodically monitored by the federal Department of Education. The State party should seek to avoid military-type training for young children.