On Tuesday afternoon with the submission in New York City of a crucial ratification by Costa Rica, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) will soon be able to hear cases petitioned directly by children or the representatives of children on child human rights issues dealing with child prostitution, child pornography and the sale of children as well as on the rights of children in areas of armed conflict.
In order for children or representative to submit a petition, the child must be from a country which has ratified the treaty and the party must also have exhausted all legal channels within the country. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure takes effect in April 2014.
Chairperson of the CRC Kirsten Sandberg stated in the press announcement on the enactment of the document, “The Optional Protocol gives children who have exhausted all legal avenues in their own countries the possibility of applying to the Committee.
“It means children are able to fully exercise their rights and are empowered to have access to international human rights bodies in the same way adults are under several other human rights treaties,” Sandberg continued. “It is a major step forward in the implementation of children’s rights, but at the same time we urge States to develop their own systems to ensure that children’s rights are respected and protected and that their voices can be heard.”
Costa Rica’s ratification of the Optional Protocol was the 10th ratification which was the number required for the protocol to take effect.
As of Tuesday, 45 countries have signed the treaty. The countries which have thus far ratified it are: Albania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand.
The United States has neither signed nor ratified this treaty.