The Progress of Nations: The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Convention watch begins

25 of the 43 countries have created bodies to monitor progress on the Convention.

8 have created or improved data collection systems on child rights.

Of the 43 countries whose reports have so far been reviewed by the international Committee on the Rights of the Child, many have shown an obvious commitment to the Convention. Namibia and Viet Nam, for example, were commended for producing timely, clear, and self-critical reports.

After reviewing each country's report, the Committee issues concluding observations and makes recommendations. Issues raised can range from a low legal age of marriage for girls to broader questions of disparity and discrimination. Governments are required to publicize their reports and the Committee's observations.

Countries have a range of options for monitoring compliance. Since the Convention came into force, Austria, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Spain have all designated ombudsmen for children at provincial as well as at national levels. Norway appointed the world's first ombudsman for children over a decade ago.

The Government of El Salvador recently established 12 municipal councils on child rights. In Nepal, the 1992 Children's Act provides one child welfare officer for each of the country's 75 districts. In Viet Nam, the Government has set up provincial, district and commune Committees for the Protection and Care of Children. In Tunisia, child protection delegates have been appointed in all 23 governorates. In Brazil, nearly half of 5,000 municipalities now have Children's Rights Councils, and over 1,000 have established special Guardianship Councils that target children at risk.

Photo: Tunisia - child protection delegates appointed in 23 governerates.©

The institutional arrangements vary widely. France has instituted an annual report to parliament on the implementation of the Convention; Romania has established a National Committee for the Protection of the Child and has opened child protection units within selected ministries.

Data are essential for monitoring all areas addressed by the Convention. But in sensitive areas such as child labour, prostitution and slavery, child soldiers, or children in prison, information is notoriously difficult to come by. Nonetheless, the Convention has brought a new priority to data collection in some countries. Morocco is collecting material from each of the country's 1,546 communes to 'map' the most disadvantaged children. Viet Nam is developing a new system to measure progress in child rights. Argentina, Egypt, El Salvador, Namibia, the Philippines, Portugal, and Romania have all set up data collection units.

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