Justice Nelson chairing the review of the Philippines at CRC’s 91st session in Geneva


The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is holding its ninety-first session this week in Geneva from 29 August to 23 September, during which the Committee will review reports on the efforts of Germany, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Philippines, South Sudan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In an opening statement, Andrea Ori, Chief, Groups in Focus Section, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Representative of the Secretary-General, said that armed conflicts, the COVID-19 pandemic, and intersecting political, economic, and environmental crises continued to negatively impact children’s rights globally.

However, children were increasingly standing up for their rights. 

Following the ground-breaking 2018 day of general discussion on child human rights defenders, 13 child human rights defenders, between 10 and 17 years of age, were now advising the Committee on spreading awareness on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change. More than 7,000 children from 103 countries had participated in an online questionnaire to prepare the first draft of the general comment.

Samoa’s representative Justice Vui Clarence Nelson is currently chairing the review of the Philippines. Speaking from Geneva, Justice Nelson told Radio Polynesia that he will also meet with NGOs and other stakeholders including children representatives from Ireland and Sweden. 

Furthermore, the Committee Working Group is producing a draft of a General Comment on Children’s Rights and the Environment with a Special Focus on Climate Change for the Committee’s consideration. 

Justice Nelson said the Committee is also holding its second yearly meeting with its partner UNICEF as well as undertaking a pre-session review of 10 countries, one of which is New Zealand. 

Mikiko Otani, Committee Chair, said the Committee on the Rights of the Child had been given one additional week this session to make up for the shortened eighty-ninth session in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Children were seriously affected by conflict, climate change, food crises and other humanitarian situations, poverty, and the negative impact of the pandemic, such as the disruption of education and mental health. 

However, children’s issues were not receiving the necessary attention. The Committee had a crucial role to play, to call on States and the international society to highlight the needs of children and support them and make the children’s agenda more visible.