Complaint Mechanism of Child Rights Treaty Enters Into Force

The treaty establishing a complaint mechanism for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“OP3”) entered into force on 14 April 2014. Costa Rica brought the number of ratifications of this Optional Protocol to the required ten, with all but Costa Rica also entering declarations accepting the Article 13 inquiry procedure.  An additional 37 states have signed the protocol but not yet completed the ratification process. States parties to the Optional Protocol thus far:

Albania, Bolivia, Gabon, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Slovakia and Costa Rica

Under the treaty, the Committee on the Rights of the Child may hear complaints from individual children, groups of children, or their representatives against a state party to OP3 for a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and for a violation of the Convention’s other two protocols if ratified by that state.

Domestic remedies must have been exhausted or shown to be “unreasonably prolonged or unlikely to bring effective relief.”  The complaint must be submitted within one year of the exhaustion of domestic remedies unless it is shown it was not possible to bring the complaint within that time limit.  The treaty also contains a follow-up procedure, an opt-out inquiry procedure for “grave or systematic violations,” and an opt-in inter-state complaint procedure.

The treaty specifies that in developing its rules of procedure the Committee on the Rights of the Child is to “guarantee child-sensitive procedures” and include “safeguards to prevent the manipulation of the child by those acting on his or her behalf.” In addition, the committee “may decline to examine any communication that it considers not to be in the child’s best interests.”  OP3 Rules of Procedure  here.

For a comparison of this OP with the complaint procedures of the other UN human rights treaties, see this comparison chart developed by the Child Rights International Network (CRIN). For additional resources on OP3, see this toolkit and annotated guide.