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Thursday 24th of September 2020

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Towards a better implementation of the UNCRC through its Third Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure

Child Rights Connect
Child Rights Connect


The Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on a Communications Procedure (OPIC), which celebrates this year the 5th anniversary of its entry into force, sets out an individual and inter-State complaints procedure, as well as an inquiry procedure for child rights violations.

It allows children from States parties to the Protocol to bring communications (complaints) about violations of their rights directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Committee). Individual communications are subject to admissibility criteria under article 7 of the Option Protocol, which includes the exhaustion of domestic remedies. The exhaustion of such remedies is not required for the submission of an inquiry request.

Since 14 April 2014 – the entry into force of the Optional Protocol – 44 States have ratified the OPIC and 19 have signed but not yet ratified it. The Committee has been receiving individual communications through the Petitions Section of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and has started to conduct inquiries into allegations of grave or systematic violations of human rights through the Groups in Focus Section. By April 2019, when the Roundtable discussion took place: the Committee had registered 83 individual communications and adopted 16 decisions on the latter communications, including four decisions on the merits, eight decisions on admissibility and four discontinuances; it had 67pending cases; and it was starting the follow-up process for its first decisions. The Committee had also discontinued three inquiries and concluded one concerning Chile. The report concerning the latter was published in June 2018.

The OPIC is the most recent Optional Protocol establishing a communications procedure within the UN Treaty Body system. It builds on and expands the existing highest standards from other treaties and therefore bears huge potential to strengthen the implementation of the UNCRC and the realisation of children’s rights on the ground. The OPIC is, first and foremost, a unique tool that States should use to strengthen their legal systems for the protection of child rights.

However, the potential of the Protocol to trigger broader change in national legislation and systems for effective remedies and reparation can only be achieved if more States ratify it to make this mechanism accessible to children on a broader global scale, and if States implement the Committee’s Views and recommendations. Some States have expressed immediate support for this instrument, while others have shown hesitation and reservations about the Committee’s capacity to handle the additional workload created by the OPIC. Some States have reviewed their national justice systems before ratifying the OPIC, while others are waiting to assess the outcomes of the first individual communications examined by the Committee to better understand the impact of the Committee’s recommendations on their obligations.


United Nations

Year Language

2019 English

Category Type

Grey Literature Report


Child, Good practices, Minors, Rights


Pdf file

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