At the 92nd CRC session opening, for the second time, children have addressed the Committee at the session opening! A member of the General Comment 26 Children’s Advisory Team delivered a speech, followed by a video message from other GC26 child advisors.

“[…] you need children’s participation to exactly tell you how we feel and what we need from you. This includes us as child advisors and all the thousands of children taking part in the consultations all over the world. Only this will give you a General Comment that stands so true to us children.” said Maya-Natuk, from Greenland.

Noteworthy, the presence of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk who delivered a statement highlighting that respect for children’s rights around the world is in sharp decline.

Child Rights Connect also delivered a statement, on behalf of its network. We highlighted that in 2023, Child Rights Connect is celebrating 40 years of advocacy to advance children’s rights globally and we welcome the Committee’s engagement in our anniversary event in May! We will jointly reflect on challenges faced by the child rights movement, including by child human rights defenders:

Distinguished members of the Committee, representatives of UN agencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Child Rights Connect this year celebrates 40 years of untiring, coordinated and increasingly child-participation-oriented advocacy to advance children’s rights globally. 40 years of providing inputs to the Committee and the UN system, calling for more progressive standards, and crafting spaces for child human rights defenders to participate on equal footing.

We are grateful to have our closest partner, the Committee, actively engaged in the milestone event we are organizing on 26 May, which will focus on changing the narrative around the child rights movement and creating a more conducive environment for the realization of children’s rights worldwide. Linking to the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the event will be a unique opportunity to jointly reflect and strategize around challenges faced and responses to these.

Amongst other things, these discussions will feed into an important project that we are starting to work on, the first ever study of the Council of Europe (CoE) on the situation of children acting as defenders of human rights. Through direct consultation with CoE Member States and children, we will collect new data on good practices and gaps related to legislation, policies, institutions and programmes to enable national implementation of the Convention and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The study will be finalized towards the end of 2023 and will surely be a helpful tool for the Committee in its monitoring of States parties.

As you know, civil society is very much looking forward to seeing the first draft of the SG’s Guidance Note on child rights mainstreaming. We urge the Committee to provide comments to the core group and take an active role in promoting the use of the Guidance Note amongst UN entities when finalized. The 2023 annual meeting of Treaty Bodies’ Chairpersons could be a good platform to raise awareness on the need to mainstream children’s rights across the system and strengthen coordination between Committees on substantive as well as procedural matters, including on child participation.

We highly appreciate the key role that the Committee’s Chair is playing to advance child rights mainstreaming in the UN system. We urge the Committee to continue and do even more, in particular to ensure that UN States facilitating the 2024 Summit of the Future will allow children to participate and will include a child rights perspective into the Pact for the Future. This will be a milestone for the whole UN system, and the risk is high that children will be forgotten and subsumed within youth. We call on the Committee to appoint a focal point for the Summit of the Future.

Allow me to say that we are extremely concerned about UNOG’s decision to stop providing interpretation for online meetings from mid-2023. This will undermine all we have achieved to expand civil society including children’s participation through the digital shift triggered by the covid-19 pandemic. We have called on the High Commissioner to take action and ensure that Committee pre-sessions are safeguarded. We also reiterate the importance for the Committee to hold an annual meeting with civil society, starting from May 2023.

Finally, we wish to say a big thank you and goodbye to the outgoing members with whom we look forward to maintaining close collaboration.

I thank you.

Alex Conte
Executive Director
child rights connect