Finland is in the process of ratifying the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and encourages all States to sign and ratify it. This Protocol was opened for signature and ratification exactly a year ago. Finland was one of the organizers of an event at the UN in New York designed to mobilize support for the speedy entry into force of 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”, the Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen said. The third Optional Protocol introduces a communications procedure, which allows the Committee on the Rights of the Child to receive and examine individual complaints alleging violations of children’s rights. Ambassador Viinanen stated that a well-functioning mechanism of individual communications brings added value to the efforts to improve children’s rights in all countries.
The Protocol has been signed by 35 countries. Thailand and Gabon were the first countries to ratify the Protocol in September 2012. At the event Germany announced to be the third country having ratified it. Finland, Bolivia, Chile, Spain and the Maldives have entered the ratification process. The Protocol will enter into force once ten ratifications will be reached.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children Ms Marta Santos Pais, who spoke at the event, gave many reasons why this Optional Protocol is so important. Communications are dealt with by an expert committee on the rights of the child. Secondly, according to her it recognizes children’s legal standing to seek redress for the violation of their rights, either directly or through a representative.
Ms Pais pointed out that Optional Protocol requires States Parties to establish domestic remedies which will need to be exhausted before the Committee intervenes. Child sensitive procedures and appropriate national mechanisms should therefore be put in place to address violations of children’s rights.
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children strongly higlighted the child’s best interest. “The rights of the alleged child victims need to be fully safeguarded.---All safeguards need to be in place to prevent the manipulation, intimidation or reprisal of the child including by those acting on his or her behalf.”