States urged to ratify new treaty so more children can access international justice for rights abuses 

(14.01.2014) Children whose human rights have been violated will finally be able to bring their cases to the United Nations after a new international treaty was enacted today. 

Children suffer human rights abuses all over the world, including being sentenced to death, trafficked into hazardous child labour, and subjected to violence and sexual abuse. They are routinely neglected by decision makers and their views and opinions ignored. Ratify OP3 CRC, an international coalition of children’s rights NGOs, says the UN will now be better equipped to address future violations of children’s rights, and more pressure will be put on countries to ensure children’s rights are respected.

Until today, and despite its near universal ratification (all countries have ratified except Somalia, South Sudan and the United States), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was the only international human rights treaty that had no mechanism for victims to seek justice internationally when they could not get redress for violations of their rights nationally.

Campaigners are urging governments around the world to ratify the new treaty so more children can access justice at the UN. A State is not bound by the treaty until it ratifies it.

Flore-Anne Bourgeois, Co-Chair of Ratify OP3CRC said: "Children suffer violations of their rights every day through armed conflicts, discrimination, violence in their communities, schools and homes, as well as lack of access to basic services such as education and healthcare, and their views and opinions are systematically ignored. The list is long. It is about time that abuses of children's rights can be brought to the UN.”

“We urge all States to show their commitment to promoting and protecting children's rights by ratifying this new treaty without delay so more children can access international justice."

The new treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2011. The treaty will become active in three months’ time after Costa Rica ratified it today. Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand previously ratified.

Cases brought under this new communications procedure will be heard by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN body of 18 independent experts responsible for ensuring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. From 14 April 2014 (three months from today), victims of all new or ongoing violations in States who have ratified the treaty can start bringing cases to the Committee if no solution is found nationally. The treaty does not cover past violations.

– A leaflet on OP3 CRC has been developed by Ratify OP3 CRC that contains information and answers key questions on OP3 CRC. The leaflet is available in Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian
– A child-friendly version of the OP3 CRC leaflet has also been produced by Ratify OP3 CRC.
– The official text of OP3 CRC is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian
– The Rules of Procedure for OP3 CRC, adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, provides detailed provisions on the concrete functioning of the complaint procedure, and can be found here.
– Advocacy Toolkit in English, French and Spanish for campaigners to get their States to ratify.
– A letter for campaigners to send to their governments, urging them to sign/ratify. In English, French and Spanish
–  A guide to using this new complaints procedure by Child Rights International Network (CRIN), a children's rights advocacy NGO, is available free of charge. It also contains a comparison of similar complaints procedures under other human rights treaties.
Child-friendly version of the Optional Protocol by the Special Representative of the Security-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children.