UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the basic human rights to which children everywhere are entitled. These include:
- The right to survival
- The right to the development of their full physical and mental potential
- The right to protection from influences that are harmful to their development
- The right to participation in family, cultural and social life
The Convention protects these rights by setting minimum standards that governments must meet in providing healthcare, education and legal and social services to children in their countries.
The Convention entered into force in September 1990. Ireland ratified the Convention in 1992.
In 2002, two Optional Protocols to the Convention came into force:
- Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
- Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict
You can find a child-friendly leaflet on the Convention (pdf) on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs website.
Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is a United Nations (UN) body of 18 Independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by the countries that are party to it. It also monitors implementation of the two Optional Protocols.
The countries are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. They must submit an initial report two years after acceding to the Convention and then periodic reports every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the country in the form of concluding observations. Ireland submitted its most recent report in 2013.
Third Optional Protocol
An Optional Protocol on a communications procedure (pdf) came into effect in Ireland on 24 December 2014. The Protocol allows individual children, or those acting on their behalf, to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention and its first two Optional Protocols directly to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
A decision by the Committee on a complaint is non-binding on a country. As a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Ireland is answerable to the United Nations for its implementation of the Convention.
The rules of the procedure are available on the UN Human Rights website.
You can find more information on the Protocol on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs website.
Making a complaint
A complaint may be submitted to the Committee by a child (or a group of children) claiming to be a victim of a violation of the Convention and/or the Optional Protocols. A complaint may also be submitted by their designated representative, or by others acting on behalf of the alleged victim with their consent. Where there is a concern that the victim’s consent may be the result of improper pressure or inducement, the Committee may request additional information to ensure that the complaint is in the best interests of the child.
A complaint may be submitted on behalf of the alleged victim without their consent - in this case, the representative will have to justify submitting the complaint.
The Committee will not accept a complaint if:
- It is anonymous
- It is not in writing
- It constitutes an abuse of the right of submission of such complaints or is incompatible with the provisions of the Convention and/or the Optional Protocols
- The same matter has already been examined by the Committee or has been or is being examined under another procedure of international investigation or settlement
- All available domestic remedies have not been exhausted unless the application of the remedies is unreasonably prolonged or unlikely to bring effective relief
- The complaint is manifestly ill-founded or not sufficiently substantiated
- The facts that are the subject of the complaint occurred prior to the entry into force of the third Protocol for the country concerned, unless those facts continued after that date
- The complaint is not submitted within one year after the exhaustion of domestic remedies, except in cases where it can be demonstrated that it was not possible to submit the communication within that time limit
How to apply
Complaints to the Committee should be submitted to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (see below).
Information on making a complaint under UN treaty rights such as the Convention is available on the UN Human Rights website.
Where to apply