The Permanent Mission of Thailand to the UN has introduced a draft resolution entitled “Strengthening of the coordination of the United Nations system on child protection”. The Resolution refers to UNICEF, the UN agency mandated to support children in need, and to five independent Special Mandate-holders that have been assigned by the UN General Assembly or the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on child protection-related issues. This includes the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The document proposes the creation of a new annual comprehensive report on UN child protection activities, as well as an evaluation of UN child protection activities to assess the level of satisfaction of Member States with the support received by the UN in that area. It also suggests that UNICEF would coordinate all child protection activities within the UN system.
Watchlist fully supports a strong and well-coordinated United Nations child protection system. However, this draft Resolution raises serious concerns:
The proposed evaluation mechanism of the UN system of child protection may threaten the independence of Special Mandate-holders: one of the declared aims of the proposed evaluation mechanism is to assess the level of satisfaction of States with the support received by the UN in the area of child protection (OP6 of the zero draft). Watchlist fears that this mechanism would undermine the independence of Special Mandate-holders, as it naturally creates pressure in instances where violations committed by State actors have been reported. Furthermore, such common evaluation mechanism would not be methodologically sound, since Special Mandate-holders and operational agencies such as UNICEF fulfill functions that are fundamentally different in nature and purpose.
- The proposed comprehensive annual report on child protection is redundant and lacks added-value: the additional reporting obligations proposed by the draft resolution (OP4 of the zero draft) would impose an undue bureaucratic burden on entities that already have heavy reporting requirements. Moreover, reporting on internal UN coordination on child protection is a redundant exercise: Special Mandate-holders are committed to mainstreaming child protection issues throughout the UN and they already include information on coordination and collaboration with other UN bodies in their current annual reports to the General Assembly or Human Rights Council. These reports are presented in formal sessions where member States are able to ask questions and discuss their content, should they need further clarification or information.
- The proposed coordination role of UNICEF and mutual reporting among Special Mandate-holders is inconsistent with the nature and purpose of special mandates: Special Representatives and Special Rapporteurs get their mandates from the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council respectively. As such, they are autonomous from UN agencies, as well as from each other. As such, the suggestion that UNICEF would play a focal role in the coordination of Special Mandate-holders’ activities (OP1 of the zero draft) and that Special Mandate-holders would report “to one another” (OP4 of the zero draft) is not in line with the nature and purpose of their mandates.
For these reasons and to ensure that Mandate-holders are able to continue to fulfill their duties efficiently and in accordance with the nature and purpose of their mandates, Watchlist calls on UN member States to urge the Royal Thai Government to withdraw the proposed resolution.
Click here to read Watchlist’s letter to UN Delegations on the withdrawal of the draft Thai Resolution on the coordination of the UN system on child protection (October 13, 2011).
The outcome of this advocacy was positive, since in the final text adopted by the General Assembly:
– Makes no mention of a new evaluation mechanism for child protection actors
– Specifically emphasizes the importance of all relevant actors of the UN on child protection to continue to carry out their functions in an independent manner and to fulfill their respective mandates.
While less comprehensive, the final resolution does ask for a report on UN coordination to the GA and an interactive dialogue at the General Assembly session in 2013, at which point, further advocacy will be needed to ensure that points dropped from the initial zero draft in 2011 are not reintroduced in a renewed version of the resolution.