The CRC Day of General Discussion 2012

Arigatou International participated in this year’s Day of General Discussion organized by the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the theme: “The rights of all children in the context of international migrations”. It was an opportunity for Arigatou International to reaffirm the importance of birth registration.

Every September, the Committee on the Rights of the Child organizes a Day of General Discussion around a section or article of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. The goal is to gather as many of the relevant actors as possible: Non Governmental Organizations, experts, but also youth and children, around a common topic. The aim is to provide governments with recommendations and advice on how to effectively implement the rights of the child.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child met on Friday 28th September 2012 in the Palais des Nations in Geneva during the 61st session of the Committee. This year’s theme: “The rights of all children in the context of international migrations” brought together more than 200 people in a rich and passionate debate, to address the situation of children affected by migrations: including children who decided to leave their country, alone or accompanied, but also those who stayed in their country of origin when their family emigrated.

The number of migrant children is ever increasing, but this phenomenon continues to be highly marginalized in public policy. Children are vulnerable and must be protected in migration processes. The debate centered on the policy gaps, but equally on attempts to formulate some propositions to ensure better respect for the rights of the child.

Arigatou International reaffirms its commitment to advocate birth registration as an essential component in the response to children and migration. If a child is not registered at birth, that child will not have access to the basic public services such as education, health care, or other social services. There will also be no record of a child’s age. All these elements obstruct the access to rights of the child. Arigatou International feels it is essential to work for the implementation of birth registration for all children around the world.

The participants formed two working groups, and made many recommendations, among which are:

• Privilege the best interest of the child;

• Avoid detention of migrant children, including detention based on family unity;

• Ensure that migrant children benefit from the same public services as children who have the nationality of the country (education, health care, housing…)

• Consider migrant children are children first, not migrants;

• Enhance participation of children;

• Adopt laws aimed to protect children in a general sense, not for specific groups of children;

• Integrate fully the issue of child labor in the discussion on migrations;

• Use the CRC as the basic normative framework. Texts exist, we need to apply them;

• Collect additional data to avoid information gaps in the understanding of the children in migration;

• Take into account the seasonal migrations of the children;

• Take into consideration children who have been left in their country of origin by their migrant parents;

• Make non-accompanied children easily recognizable (i.e. uniform)

• Work in close collaboration with communities of origin, which have a very important role to play;

• Adopt preventive measures to avoid  “forced” migrations;

• Keep together birth registration and statelessness since these elements are intrinsically linked;

• Advocate for the responsibility of the state to coordinate between the different authorities;

• Assure that, iIrrespective of their legal status, children benefit from an equal access to health care, education, housing…

• Provide information that is understandable for children (use of the language of origin, child-friendly documents …) 

• Avoid detention of children without any exception. There is a need to find alternatives to detention;

• Assist children who have been left in the country of origin by the migrant parents.

The theme chosen for the next Day of General Discussion in September 2013 is the question of social networks.

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