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UK must sign up to latest Optional Protocol on international children's rights legislation

28th February 2012
Palais des Nations, Geneva
The Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on a complaints mechanism for children is opening for signature.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement that protects the human rights of children under the age of 18. The UNCRC was ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1989 and on the 16 December 1991, the UK and Northern Ireland formally agreed to make sure that every child in the UK has all the rights as listed in the convention. The Welsh Assembly Government has shown its commitment to the convention by adopting it as the basis for policy making for children and young people in Wales in 2004.

The third Optional Protocol to the CRC will allow children and their representatives to bring complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – the treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the CRC – for violations against their rights.

It is open for signature by the UK, as well as any State that has signed, ratified or acceded to the CRC or either of the Convention’s first two Optional Protocols (on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and on the involvement of children in armed conflict).

The complaints mechanism acknowledges that children should have equal access to international human rights bodies and the international system of accountability for rights violations.

Christine Beddoe, Director of ECPAT UK, said: “The CRC is the last of the core human rights instruments to gain a complaints procedure and so the UK must lead the way in signing this Optional Protocol to ensure that all children are entitled to the full protection of human rights laws and empowered to bring about complaints about human rights violations.”

The signing ceremony will take place today (28 February) at the Palais des Nations (pictured) in Geneva. The new Optional Protocol will come into force three months after 10 UN member states have agreed to be legally bound by it.

Read the full Convention on the Rights of the Child here.

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