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Historic Pacific session examines status of children’s rights

Graphic: A young smiles through a window, Fiji

The Committee on the Rights of the Child will be the first of the UN human rights treaty bodies to hold a regional session when it meets in Samoa.

UN human rights treaty bodies LogoUN human rights treaty bodies

In a first for UN human rights treaty bodies, the Committee on the Rights of the Child will hold an Extraordinary Session in Samoa from 2-6 March 2020.

It will be the first time any of the treaty bodies has convened a regional session.

The 18-member Committee will meet with representatives from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu to discuss the steps that have been taken to promote and protect the rights of children.

Kiribati will meet with the Committee in 2021 and civil society representatives will be in Samoa as part of preparations for that review process.

Committee members will also hear directly from Pacific children about their experiences and the issues that matter to them.

The Committee will be able to learn much more about the situation of children’s rights in the Pacific and, we hope, people will learn more about our work and how they can engage with the Committee.

UN human rights treaty bodies Logo Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna, Chairperson, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Graphic: School girls in Samoa talk to an NHRI staff member

The Pacific Community's Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) will support the UN and the Government of Samoa in holding the session.

A range of side events will be held during the week, including two that will be co-hosted by Samoa's national human rights institution: on the right to health of children (held in partnership with the Government of Samoa); and on translating human rights into the Pacific context (held in partnership with SPC RRRT).

All Pacific Island countries have signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

States that have signed and ratified the Convention are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must submit an initial report two years after acceding to the Convention and then periodic reports every five years.

As part of the review process, the Committee holds an interactive dialogue with the country under review and considers reports from the country's NHRI and civil society organisations before making recommendations on practical steps to improve implementation of children's rights.

However, the time and cost involved in travelling to Geneva can prevent many individuals and organisations from the Pacific Islands from participating in these dialogues.

"Having the Committee sit in Samoa will enhance its understanding of the Pacific and national contexts and better inform their work," SPC RRRT Director Miles Young said.

"It will also allow for the wider participation of Pacific children, civil society organisations, governments, national human rights institutions and other actors, which in turn will foster national ownership of human rights," he noted.

Information about the Extraordinary Session and side events, as well as video messages from members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, are available at: https://www.childrightsconnect.org/samoa/.

Date: 17 February 2020

Image credits

  1. A young smiles through a window, Fiji - Photo by MM, Flickr CC
  2. School girls in Samoa talk to an NHRI staff member - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa