Children’s Human Rights CPD Day Three: ‘The Communication Procedure’
Author: Manxi Zhang, Student at the University of Edinburgh.
Day 3 – March 9 2022
In the morning session of the course on Wednesday, Professor Ann Skelton provided an extensive overview on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communication procedure, which is also be called OPIC or OP3. OPIC has been operating since 2014 and, up to now, 48 countries have ratified it and 17 signed – but it not yet ratified by the UK. This protocol provides a complaints procedure that enables individual or groups whose rights have been violated to access fair remedies. There are three types of the Communication Procedure: individual, inter-state and inquiries, and this session focus on individual communication.
Prof Skelton provided a clear description of the Committee’s working procedures, starting with the Committee’s receipt of a communication, assessing its admissibility, and registering admissible communications as active cases. Supported by the Petitions Unit, a working group of nine members from the Committee produce a draft decision followed by the full Committee’s consideration. Prof Skelton stressed that each step in the process required meticulous consideration. At present, the procedure’s complexity meant children supported by adults were more likely to have an admissible case, and the Committee sometimes assisted children to make such links.
The session discussed a high-profile and controversial case for the Committee brought by 16 child human rights defenders, to address climate change. The Committee issued an open letter (Find the full letter here) to the children who submitted the communication, explaining their decision to the children and encouraging them to feel empowered to continue their advocacy work on climate change. Although the Committee decided that the communication was inadmissible because they had not exhausted domestic remedies, it also acknowledged that it raised “novel jurisdictional issues of transboundary harm related to climate change”. For more information, please see here.
In the afternoon workshops, issues related to children’s participation were discussed by the conference members led by workshop co-facilitators. As one of the general principles of the UNCRC, Article 12 recognises that all children have the right to have their views heard and taken seriously. Children’s participation is critical for their rights to be realised. Much of the talk in the workshop revolves around Lundy’s framework of Space, Voice, Audience, and Influence (Article for Lundy’s framework: ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 2005).
Conference members shared their experiences and ideas about how to create a safe place for participation and what are great ingredients participation. After the workshop, the panel reflected on relational processes, reflections on power, and learning from participation activities that had been meaningful and effective.
The Special Children’s Human Rights CPD course has been organized by the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, in partnership with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, the Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland, and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law at the University of Strathclyde.
The Observatory is currently supported in part due to the Impact Acceleration Grant from the ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant awarded to the University of Edinburgh (grant reference ES/T50189X/1).
Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash