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Empowering Pacific children: Recap of 2020 CRC84 and looking ahead to upcoming 2023 CRC Visit
In a groundbreaking event that took place in March 2020, Samoa hosted the 84th Extraordinary Outreach Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC84).
This session was a historic departure from the traditional venue of Geneva and marked the significance of extending treaty body engagements to the Pacific. CRC84 not only demonstrated the advantages of this innovative approach but also identified areas for improvement.
The Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Tuvalu were the countries under review during CRC84, and representatives from these countries got the opportunity to directly engage in discussions with members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The discussions focused on the protection, promotion, and improvement of children's rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Several side events were also organised to discuss child rights and participation within the Pacific context, including the impacts of climate change and the right to health.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child, composed of 18 independent experts, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention by its State parties and their obligation to implement it. All Pacific Islands countries (PICs) ratified the Convention and submitted regular reports to the Committee on the related progress. The Committee examines each port and provides its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of "concluding observations."
During the CRC84 session in 2020, children played a central role, sharing their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations with the Committee through the formal session, side events, and informal discussions. They discussed issues such as the challenges of adolescence, cultural influences on their rights, and the presence of corporal punishment in their lives. These insights were both thoughtful and practical, reflecting their unique perspectives.
The CRC84 event in 2020 attracted Pacific NGOs to Apia, with parallel events running continuously, and newspapers filled with articles discussing various child rights issues. Following CRC84, Committee members travelled to Vanuatu and Fiji, engaging with stakeholders and delivering public lectures at national universities, reaching well over 1,000 people directly, with thousands more following the event through various channels.
The event showcased a range of outcomes, emphasising the value it offered for increasing the implementation of the Convention. These outcomes included empowering rights-holders to advocate for their own rights and the rights of others, providing a conducive environment for effective dialogue enriched by increased national and regional stakeholder participation, equipping the Committee with a deeper understanding of context, extensive media coverage, and strengthening civil society organisations and new partnerships for implementation.
While CRC84 in 2020 demonstrated the success of engagements by human rights treaty bodies at the regional level, it also revealed areas for improvement. Wider participation of marginalised groups and a more balanced representation from across the region were identified as beneficial. Although the costs of such sessions can be high, the results indicate that the potential benefits far outweigh the expenses.
The event highlighted the potential value and need for a people-centred approach to treaty body sessions, placing the Convention target group, in this case, children, at the centre of the process. CRC84 in 2020 demonstrated the power of direct engagement and served as a beacon of hope for a more inclusive, impactful approach to advancing child rights and human rights in the Pacific and beyond.
Looking to the Future through the upcoming CRC Follow-Up Visit to the Pacific in November 2023:
The Committee on the Rights of the Child have decided to follow up on CRC84 by sending three of its members to conduct a Follow-Up Visit to the Pacific in November 2023, comprising a series of events aimed at advancing the cause of children's rights in the region.
As part of these country visits, Committee members will travel to the three countries that were under review in CRC84 in 2020: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Tuvalu from 13 – 15 November. They will then converge in Samoa from 20 – 22 November for a regional experience-sharing workshop with representatives from 14 PICs.
This Follow-Up Visit by the Committee serves as a crucial platform for bringing together international, regional, and national stakeholders to discuss good practices, address challenges, and identify opportunities related to upholding children's rights in the Pacific. It also aims to build regional momentum for more effective follow-up to the Committee's recommendations and to accelerate action for the increased implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Committee's Follow-Up Visit to the Pacific is expected to play a pivotal role in ensuring children's rights are protected and upheld across the region. By engaging with governments, civil society, and children themselves, this initiative seeks to make a tangible difference in the lives of Pacific Island children and to promote a stronger commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The event is supported by the following donor partners of the Pacific Community (SPC): United States Agency for International Development through PROJECT Governance and the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Sweden.
More information on CRC84: https://hrsd.spc.int/node/866
For further information and inquiries regarding the CRC Follow-Up Visit to the Pacific in November 2023, please contact: