The Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Mikiko Otani, delivered a statement at the 76th session of the General Assembly in New York, on 7th October 2021.

The Chair took this opportunity to recall the high-level panel discussion held at the Human Rights Council in February 2020, focusing on advancing the mainstreaming of children’s rights within the United Nations system through a child rights-based approach. “Key to integrating children’s rights into all the United Nations activities and programmes in its three pillars – human rights, development and peace and security – is to recognize children’s role and have their voices heard in all these areas”, she said. She added that children should be able to freely express their views and have their views taken into account on all matters and decisions that affect them in local, national and international discussions. In particular, the Chair called for the participation of children in the upcoming ILO Fifth Global Conference on Child Labour (2022 – South Africa), in response to the restriction of child participation in the previous conference.

This echoes and supports our recent position paper on Mainstreaming child rights: a call for a UN-wide strategy on child rights in response to Our Common Agenda and reinforces the need for a UN-wide strategy on child rights.

The Chair also highlighted the following issues:

  • The long-term and serious impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s rights and the need to address it with a child rights-based approach;
  • The growing body of alarming evidence on the adverse effects of climate change, that the Committee will address in its next general comment on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change;
  • The slow pace of ratification of the three Optional Protocols and slow pace of reporting under the OPAC and OPSC, encouraging States parties with overdue reports to fulfil their reporting obligations;
  • The lack of dedicated human resources to support the growing number of complaints received through the OPIC, resulting in a current backlog despite the Committee’s significant efforts to examine cases as speedily as possible;
  • The importance of the 2019 Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty and its implementation at the national level, where the Committee committed to play an active role in the following up.
  • A call that the 2022 budget redresses the shortfall in staff resources and comply with the recommendation from the Secretary-General as well as the co-facilitators of the treaty body review 2020 that the resources dedicated to treaty bodies must be sufficiently funded in a sustainable manner from the regular budget in order for them to be able to fulfil their respective mandates.

The Chair also took this opportunity to share some updates on the work of the Committee since October 2020. This included the country reviews, adoption of Lists of Issues and Lists of Issues Prior to Reporting, OPIC adopted decisions and draft Working Methods for Inquiries, work on the General Comments and Day of General Discussion.