The third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
In general, human rights treaties are the result of many years of negotiation among representatives of governments, international and non-governmental organisations as well as experts in the respective field. The third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of the most recent results of such a process of negotiation and persuasion. Since February 28, 2012 it is open to all states for signing and ratification.
The Optional Protocol provides for an individual complaints mechanism for children and youth. It gives them the opportunity to claim their rights according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on an international level by turning to the UN Committee provided that the domestic legal processes have been exhausted.
Similar procedures already exist for other crucial human rights treaties. The novelty of this Optional Protocol is that it allows the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child to launch investigations into grave and systematic violations of the rights of children on its own initiative.
The Optional Protocol will come into force as soon as it will be ratified by ten states. So far, 20 states have signed, among them Germany. This photostream gives an impression of how many years of struggle for the development and advancement of human rights turn into law. Though it is still not clear how this new instrument will stand the test of contributing to the actual implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.