Switzerland to ratify the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Berne. On Wednesday 25 March, the Federal Council opened the consultation on the approval of the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Protocol extends the Convention with a communications procedure that enables individuals to report violations of the rights guaranteed by the Convention to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This new control instrument is intended to ensure that the Convention can be implemented more effectively.

Switzerland has joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Convention) and its first two Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on involvement of children in armed conflicts. By way of a control mechanism these instruments provide for a reporting procedure whereby the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Committee) reviews reports from the states parties on the implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocols.

In 2014, the Parliament adopted a motion by National Councillor Viola Amherd instructing the Federal Council to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning a communications procedure (Optional Protocol). The Optional Protocol provides the Committee with three additional control mechanisms. The Individual Communications Procedure enables the Committee to review communications from individuals or groups of individuals claiming to be the victims of a violation of the Convention or of the first two optional protocols. The requirement for the individual communications procedure is that all domestic remedies must have been exhausted. Under the Interstate Communications Procedure, a state party may submit a communication to the Committee stating that another state party is not fulfilling its obligations under the Convention or its optional protocols. The communications procedures are concluded with a legally non-binding decision by the Committee setting down its opinion, which can be supplemented by recommendations for implementation. In case of reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a state party of rights under the Convention or rights under the optional protocols, the Committee may also conduct an Inquiry Procedure.

Switzerland has already recognised analogous mechanisms for other UN conventions. Switzerland's accession to the Optional Protocol would strengthen the impact of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in practice and would also send a signal that Switzerland takes the interests of children seriously.

The consultation procedure will run until 2 July 2015.

Last modification 25.03.2015

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