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Progress in advancing child rights noted as UN expert panel opens session in Geneva

Progress in advancing child rights noted as UN expert panel opens session in Geneva

A United Nations committee is set to examine the efforts of 10 countries in implementing the provisions of a key treaty on children's rights as it opened its latest session today in Geneva.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is expected to review reports from the Governments of Guinea-Bissau, Belgium, Niger, Belarus, Tunisia and Switzerland. Other submissions to be evaluated during the three-week spring session include those from the United Arab Emirates, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Spain and the Netherlands.

In an opening address, a senior official from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Maria Francisca Ize-Charrin, noted recent progress in dealing with children's rights.

Among the signs of improvement was the recent decision by the UN Commission on Human Rights to establish an independent expert - to be appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan - to study violence against children.

Ms. Ize-Charrin also noted that 128 countries have so far approved expanding the membership of the Committee to 18 experts, up from its current 10. Nine more States must notify their acceptance of that increase for it to take effect.

Meanwhile, 30 countries had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention involving children in armed conflict, which entered into force on 12 February. The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution, which entered into force on 18 January, had been ratified by 29 States. An initial report on the Optional Protocols was expected by early 2004, Ms. Ize-Charrin said.