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    Background Release   UNIS/HR/163
        15 September 2000
     Committee on the Rights of the Child to Hold Twenty-fifth Session at Geneva from 18 September to 6 October 2000

    (Reissued as received)

    GENEVA, 14 September (UN Information Service) -–  The promotion and protection of children's rights in Finland, Burundi, the United Kingdom, Tajikistan, Colombia, the Central African Republic, the Marshall Islands, the Slovak Republic and the Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros will be at the top of the agenda as the Committee on the Rights of the Child meets in Geneva from 18 September to 6 October.

     The Committee was formed in 1991 to monitor the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most complete statement of children's rights ever made and the first to give these rights the force of international law.  The countries scheduled to come before the Committee at this session are among the 191 to have ratified or acceded to the Convention, a number that makes the treaty the most widely accepted human rights instrument ever.  Only Somalia and the United States have not yet ratified it.  The States parties to the Convention are expected to send representatives to the Committee to present and defend reports on how they give effect to children's rights.

     On Friday, 22 September, the Committee will hold a day-long general discussion on "State violence against children".

     During this three-week session, the Committee may also pursue the elaboration of general comments based on the various principles and provisions of the Convention.  It is expected to pursue its discussion of ways and areas in which existing cooperation with various relevant bodies could be further strengthened to enhance the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.  The panel will also discuss the organization of its future work, as well as the procedure to be followed in the consideration of reports by State parties and their follow-up, including where necessary areas identified for technical assistance.

     The Committee is composed of 10 independent experts, although States parties have adopted an amendment to the Convention that would increase the membership to 18 in order to enable the Committee to face a rapidly growing workload.  The amendment will enter into force upon acceptance by a two-thirds majority of State parties.  The Committee will start its work by approving its agenda and programme of work.

    Concluding Remarks on Reports of States Parties Previously Reviewed

     Of the nine countries whose reports are being considered this session, two have had reports previously reviewed.  The other seven are presenting their initial reports.

     In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Colombia, which was reviewed in January 1994, the Committee welcomed the major legislative initiatives adopted with a view to providing a legal framework for the implementation of the Convention.  The Committee also welcomed the initiatives taken towards creating special mechanisms for the implementation of the Convention.  The Committee suggested Colombia give serious consideration to training professional groups working with or for children, including teachers and judges, in children's rights.  It also recommended that further measures be envisaged to strengthen cooperation with non-governmental organizations to aim at greater social mobilization on behalf of the rights of the child.

     In its concluding remarks on the initial report of Finland, which was reviewed in January 1996, the Committee welcomed the amendment of the Constitution of Finland in 1995 that included human rights and children's rights as fundamental principles.  It also noted the long-standing efforts made by Finland in the field of international cooperation.  The Committee recommended that the Government take all necessary measures, including information campaigns in schools and society at large, to reduce the negative feelings and racism towards foreigners.  It also encouraged Finland to take all necessary measures to fight against school drop-out.

    Timetable for Consideration of Reports

     The following is the timetable for the consideration of reports from States parties to the Convention during this session:

    Tuesday, 19 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Finland (CRC/C/70/Add.3)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.     "

    Wednesday, 20 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Burundi (CRC/C/3/Add.58)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.       "

    Thursday, 21 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. United Kingdom (CRC/C/11/Add.19)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.       "

    Tuesday, 26 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tajikistan (CRC/C/28/Add.14)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.       "

    Wednesday, 27 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Colombia (CRC/C/70/Add.5)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.       "

    Thursday, 28 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Central African Republic (CRC/C/11/Add.18)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.        ”

    Friday, 29 September 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Marshall Islands (CRC/C/28/Add.12)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.   "

    Tuesday, 3 October 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Slovak Republic (CRC/C/11/Add.17)
         3 p.m.-6 p.m.        "

    Wednesday, 4 October 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros (CRC/C/28/Add.13)
        3 p.m.-6 p.m.           "

    Convention on Rights of Child

     The General Assembly adopted the Convention unanimously on 20 November 1989, 30 years after the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child.  The Convention makes States which accept it legally accountable for their actions towards children.  Work on its drafting began in 1979 -- the International Year of the Child -- at the Commission on Human Rights.

     The Convention was opened for signature on 26 January 1990.  That day, 61 countries signed it, a record first-day response.  It entered into force just seven months later, on 2 September 1990.

     Ratifying the Convention entails reviewing national legislation to make sure it is in line with the provisions of the treaty.  The Convention stipulates, among other things, that:  every child has the right to life, and States shall ensure to the maximum child survival and development; every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth; and, when courts, welfare institutions or administrative authorities deal with children, the child's best interests shall be a primary consideration.  The Convention recognizes the right of children to be heard.

     Furthermore, States shall:  ensure that each child enjoys full rights without discrimination or distinctions of any kind; that children should not be separated from their parents, unless by competent authorities for their well-being; States should facilitate reunification of families by permitting travel into, or out of, their territories; and States shall protect children from physical or mental harm and neglect, including sexual abuse or exploitation.

     Also according to the Convention:  disabled children shall have the right to special treatment, education and care; primary education shall be free and compulsory and discipline in school should respect the child's dignity; capital punishment or life imprisonment shall not be imposed for crimes committed before the age of 18; no child under 15 should take any part in hostilities and children exposed to armed conflict shall receive special protection; and  children of minority and indigenous populations shall freely enjoy their own culture, religion and language.

    A conference of State parties has endorsed efforts to amend the Convention of the Committee, while the General Assembly has expressed support for the working group of the Commission on Human Rights on a draft optional protocol to the treaty related to the involvement of children in armed conflict.

    Committee Membership

     The Convention requires that the members of the Committee have a high moral standing and recognized competence in the field of children's rights.  The following experts, nominated by the State parties to serve in their personal capacity, have been elected to the Committee:  Jacob Doek (the Netherlands), Amina El Guindi (Egypt), Francesco Paolo Fulci (Italy), Judith Karp (Israel), Nafsiah Mboi (Indonesia), Esther Margaret Queen Mokhuane (South Africa), Awa N'deye Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso), Ghassan Salim Rabah (Lebanon), Marilia Sardenberg Gonçalves (Brazil), and Elizabeth Tigerstedt-Tähtalä (Finland).

     The Chairperson is Mrs. Ouedraogo.  Vice Chairpersons are Mrs. Sardenberg, Mrs. Mokhuane and Mr. Rabah.  Mr. Doek is Rapporteur.

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