Every year, between September and December, all Members of the UN General Assembly meet to discuss international issues that fall under the UN Charter. Discussions are organized through six thematic Committees.
Child rights are a standing point on the agenda of the Third Committee, which focuses on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural affairs. Under this agenda point, the Committee discusses and adopts an annual Omnibus Resolution on the Rights of the Child, examines reports of relevant Special Rapporteurs and Special Representatives, as well as any new child-related draft Resolutions that may be tabled by Member States.
This year, the Omnibus Resolution on the Rights of the Child is expected to include a provision on the renewal of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. This mandate has been consistently extended every three years since its creation in by Resolution 51/77 in 1997.
Children and armed conflict: key issues under discussion at the 2011 UN General Assembly:
- The Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict to the General Assembly
- The role of Governments in protecting conflict affected children
- Draft Resolution “Strengthening of the coordination of the United Nations system on child protection” – a threat to the independence of UN mandate-holders?
Resolutions concerning the rights of the child in the Third Committee of the General Assembly
Two resolutions concerning the rights of the child were approved in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. The Omnibus Resolution, which contains the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC) was adopted on November 22, 2011, and, as expected, renewed the SRSG’s mandate with no major changes for a period of three years.
The second resolution, “Strengthening of the coordination of the United Nations system on child protection” was tabled by the Thai government and adopted in its final form on November 21, 2011. The final resolution reiterates 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. It further underlines the importance of sustained, adequate resources and support for the work of the UN system on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
In October 2011, the Permanent Mission of Thailand introduced a draft of the resolution which proposed the creation of a new annual comprehensive report on UN child protection activities, as well as an evaluation of these activities to assess the level of satisfaction of Member States. It also suggested that UNICEF should coordinate all child protection activities within the UN system. While less comprehensive, the final resolution does ask for a report on UN coordination to the GA and an interactive dialogue in two years. At that time, arguments may be made for redistribution of tasks using the excuse of “increased coordination.”