Statement by H.E. Mr. Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations
United Nations, New York, 28 February 2013
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Madam moderator, members of the panel, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Coalition for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure for organising this event and its work on achieving speedy ratification of the Protocol.
Before making a few remarks of Finland’s own ratification process allow me to just say that it is a great honor for me to serve as President of the UNICEF Executive Board in 2013.
UNICEF’s mission is to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. UNICEF is guided in doing this by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
For the UNICEF Executive Board, this year is an important one. The Board is expected to discuss and adopt the new medium-term strategic plan (MTSP) for the coming four years. In my capacity as the President I shall do my utmost to ensure that the Executive Board continues to give full support to the invaluable work of UNICEF, to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the world, and to realize their rights.
I would now like to turn to my own country, Finland, where the promotion of the rights of the child is one of the priorities of the Government’s human rights policy and also a cross-cutting theme of the development policy.
Finland has been a State Party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child since 1991.
Finland has ratified two Optional Protocols to the Convention (The first Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the second Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography). One year ago, we welcomed the adoption of the Third Optional Protocol on establishing a Communications Procedure. We believe that the Third Optional Protocol is an important step for the enhancement of the rights of the child.
My country was one of the co-sponsors of the Human Rights Council resolution (A/HRC/RES/11/1) which established the Open-ended Working Group to explore the possibility of elaborating an optional protocol, in order to provide a communications procedure under the Convention. We participated actively in the negotiations and signed the Protocol on 28 February 2012, when it was first opened for signature.
Finland is currently in the process of ratifying the Protocol, and statements on the ratification have been requested from the relevant authorities and national NGOs working in the field of children’s rights. All actors, which have provided statements, are in favour of ratifying the Protocol.
We strongly believe that the new Optional Protocol will promote the full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and thus increase its weight and strengthen the status of children as rights-holders. Moreover, a well-functioning mechanism of individual communications brings added value to the efforts to improve children's rights in all countries.
However, I would like to also emphasise the importance of ensuring that adequate and effective domestic remedies are available. Thus access to an international or regional complaints procedure should be available only as a last resort, after the domestic remedies have been exhausted.
Finland has comprehensive mechanisms of its own for complaints about deficiencies in the implementation of children's rights. However, in our national experience we have not seen many complaints from children (e.g. to courts or to ombudsmen).
The Protocol needs 10 ratifications to come into force. Finland therefore encourages all States to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol and hopes it will enter into force without delay.