The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child regularly organizes Days of General Discussion which aim to contribute to a deeper understanding of the content or implications of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and facilitate its implementation in practice, focusing on a specific article of the CRC or related topic.
This year, the General Discussion Day was dedicated to protection and empowerment of children as human rights defenders and it was held on 28 September 2018 in Geneva. Representative of Child Rights Centre, director Ines Cerovic, participated in this event.
In order to contribute to consideration of this important topic, the Child Rights Centre organized a consultative process with members of Children informative cultural service – DX who prepared their submission for the Day of General Discussion entitled “Protecting and empowering children as human rights defenders”. Children gave their opinions and inputs on what children as human rights defenders represent to them, how these children are different from other children, what qualities these children should have, and what type of support they need in order to advocate and fight for their rights.
This contribution was sent to and accepted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and in this way the opinions and inputs of children are reflected in the publication “Children Human Rights Defenders – The views, Perspectives and Recommendations of Children Across the World“.
Children human rights defenders around the world work on problems such as combating violence at school, advancing the rights of children with disabilities, protecting the environment or stopping the practice of child marriages. One of the major problem is the fact that children human rights defenders often are not recognized in national and international documents related to the protection of human rights defenders, and they are not allowed to deal with this matter (for example, the law prohibits association and establishment of groups, adults decide that children cannot be involved or do not take them seriously).
A number of representatives of the states parties, NGOs, various United Nations human rights mechanisms, specialized agencies, national human rights institutions, academia, and the business sector participated in the Day of General Discussion in Geneva. This year the event had a special value because a lot of children from all over the world participated and shared experiences in their fight for the rights of the child. In thematic working groups participants discussed ways in which legislation, policies, practices and relevant measures aimed at protecting and empowering children as a human rights defenders can be improved and how the existing international standards related to human rights defenders can be applied to children as human rights defenders. Each panel included the children’s perspectives – the children themselves presented positive practices and key challenges, and also had priority in asking questions.
The key message of this event was: “Nothing about us should be decided without us”.