[JURIST] United Nations child rights experts on Monday praised [press release] the new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure [text, PDF], which grants children access to international human rights protections by allowing minors to complain directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRD) [official website] about the violation of their rights. The Protocol permits children or their representatives to submit formal complaints, upon which the CRD must review the allegations and decide whether to take action. If a rights violation is found to have the proper grounds, the CRD must then recommend to the nation at issue specific and mandatory procedures to remedy the violations. According to the UN, the Protocol effectively places children on equal legal footing with adults with respect to several international treaties. Children will be allowed to allege rights violations only if their government has ratified the treaty and if they have already exhausted all legal options in their own country. UN experts applauded this commitment to improving children's access to justice, stating their hope that "this new treaty will give voice to children's testimonies and help them to obtain the necessary remedy and reparation." Ten countries have ratified the treaty so far.
Childrens' rights continues to be an important issue across the globe. In November the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] issued [JURIST report] a 60-page multimedia report that Syrian refugee children are suffering trauma from the Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder], which has killed over 120,000 people. The report stated that many Syrian refugee children in Jordan and Lebanon are growing up in broken families, lacking education and serving as a household's primary source of income. Also in November a UN independent rights expert called on the government of the Republic of Benin to better protect the rights of children [JURIST report] after a visit to the country reportedly revealed widespread abuse and exploitation. In September Sweden's Ombudsman for Children [official website] Fredrik Malmberg called for the country to ban infant male circumcision [JURIST report], claiming the practice violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text]. Also in September UN officials urged member states to ratify [JURIST report] the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its three optional protocols at the 2013 treaty event held at its New York headquarters.