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UN Committee examines NZ government's
performance on child rights

Concluding Observations on New Zealand
Committee on the Rights of the Child, 4 February 2011

On 19 January 2011, the government’s performance in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OP-AC) was considered by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child during its 56th session in Geneva. This page has information about the process, divided into two main sections:

  • Background information - the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention) and its Optional Protocols, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee), the NZ government, the Convention and the OP-AC, the government's Third and Fourth Periodic Report, NGO reports to the Committee, the Committee's List of Issues and the government's response, and useful resources and links.
  • Information on the 56th session - who said what in Geneva, the Committee's Concluding Observations, and media releases and coverage.
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    Background information

    The Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols

    The Committee on the Rights of the Child

      The Committee is the UN body which monitors the progress of state parties towards fulfilling their binding obligations under the Convention and the two Optional Protocols. It comprises 18 independent human rights experts, who are each elected for a term of four years by a secret ballot of all state parties to the Convention. Information about the current members of the Committee is available here.

      The Committee meets in Geneva and normally holds three sessions each year, each consisting of a three-week plenary and a one-week Pre-Sessional Working Group. The Committee reports on its work to the UN General Assembly via the Economic and Social Council.

      Every state party to the Convention is required to submit regular periodic reports to the Committee on what legislative, judicial, administrative and other measures they have taken to fulfil their obligations under the Convention and the Optional Protocols (if applicable). The initial report is submitted two years after the state has ratified the Convention and then at five-yearly intervals. After the submission of an initial report on the Optional Protocol/s (also two years after ratification), updates on measures to implement the Optional Protocol/s are included in the state's periodic report under the Convention.

      The periodic reports are examined by the Committee in conjunction with information supplied in parallel reports from NGOs. As well as the texts of the Convention and its Optional Protocols (if applicable), the Committee takes into account General Comments, which it has developed through time to provide more detailed information on specific child rights topics, to assess whether or not a state party is complying with its binding obligations - the Committee's General Comments are available here. The Committee has also published nine recommendations which are available here.

      Prior to the session when a periodic report will be considered, a List of Issues (a list of specific issues which the Committee wants more information on) is sent to the state party. The List of Issues is put together during a Pre-Sessional Working Group by Committee members appointed to cover that particular state party during the examination of its periodic report. Once the list of issues has been adopted, it is transmitted to the state party concerned and the state is required to provide the requested information in writing before the plenary session when the state's compliance with the Convention and its Optional Protocols (if applicable) will be considered.

      The examination of state party reports takes the form of an interactive dialogue and begins with the state party's representative introducing the periodic report by way of brief introductory comments. Committee members then make comments or ask questions about the report, to which the state representative replies; this is followed by further comments and questions from Committee members, which the state representative/s then address. The dialogue is designed to give the Committee a more complete picture of the child rights' situation in the state.

      The final phase of the Committee's examination of a state's periodic report is the drafting and adoption of Concluding Observations. These generally include an introductory section, a section with positive aspects, and a section with principal areas of concern which includes suggestions and recommendations on how the state party can improve its implementation of the Convention. Concluding Observations generally also include a recommendation requesting the wide dissemination of the Concluding Observations in the state party concerned, and sometimes a request for additional information to be provided to the Committee within a specified deadline (usually of one year) on specific points.

      The Committee's 56th session runs from 17 January to 4 February 2011. As well as considering the NZ government's periodic report, the Committee will consider periodic reports from Afghanistan, Belarus, Denmark, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Singapore and Ukraine; initial OP-SC reports from Belarus and Mexico; initial OP-AC reports from Belarus, Mexico and Ukraine; pursue the elaboration of General Comments on two articles, one related to the principle of the best interest of the child and one on protection of children from all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse; and continue its discussion on a joint General Comment with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on harmful practices. In addition, the Committee will hold a General Day of Discussion on children of prisoners.

      More information about the Committee and its work is available here.

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    The NZ government, the Convention and the OP-AC

    The government's Third and Fourth Periodic Report

      The government's Third and Fourth Periodic Report (CRC/C/NZL/3-4) was sent to the Committee on 11 November 2008.

      The Periodic Report covers the period January 2001 to October 2008, and covers the range of measures - including legislative, judicial, and administrative - taken "to give effect to the provisions and underlying principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child during the review period". It also outlines the government's efforts to consult with NGOs, as well as children and young persons' networks, on the contents of the Report, and to provide them with information on NZ's 2004–2008 work programme on the Convention (paragraphs 8 to 19).

      When assessing the government's performance on child rights, in addition to the Periodic Report, the Committee has access to NZ's Core Document forming part of the Reports of States Parties (HRI/CORE/NZL/2006) and the updated version Common Core Document of New Zealand (HRI/CORE/NZL/2010) - the Core Document contains general information about NZ, and is used by all of the UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies when considering government reports under the international human rights instruments which NZ is a state party to.

      The next Periodic Report on child rights is due on 5 May 2015.

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    NGO reports to the Committee

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    The list of issues and the government's response

      On 14 October 2010, the Committee released the List of Issues (CRC/C/NZL/Q/3-4) which requested the government to submit additional, updated information in writing, if possible before 19 November 2010.

      The List of Issues included questions about: whether there is a body responsible for coordinating policies, programmes and activities to implement Convention rights, and if there is a National Plan of Action for children; what measures have been taken to combat discrimination against children; what preventative measures are in place to protect children from abuse and neglect; what progress has been made in reforming legislation on adoption; the relatively high rates of infant mortality among indigenous children; Family Group Conferencing; trafficking in children; and the consequences of the reduction of the minimum age of criminal responsibility. In addition, the Committee asked the government to provide updated information on a range of issues, as well as specific data and statistical information on a range of topics.

      The government responded to the List of Issues (CRC/C/NZL/Q/3-4/Add.1) on 7 December 2010.

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      Information on the 56th session

      Who said what in Geneva

        The government sent a delegation of six officials, led by the Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development, to appear before the Committee during its examination of NZ's Periodic Report. The interactive dialogue took place over two sessions in the morning and the afternoon of 19 January 2011.

        The UNOG summary of what was said during the sessions, 'Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews report of New Zealand', is available here.

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    The Committee's Concluding Observations

    Media releases and coverage

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    Useful resources and links

        As well as the links in the sections above, other useful resources are:

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