The “follow-up” period starts when the Committee issues its concluding observations on the situation of children’s rights in this State and ends when the State submits a new State report to the Committee. During this period, the State concerned is supposed to follow up on the recommendations made by the Committee in its last concluding observations and thus implement positive changes for children’s rights. Overall, the “follow-up” period lasts at least 5 years.
While it is the States duty to be responsible for implementing such changes, children’s rights defenders have an important role to play in maintaining the pressure to act on States and encouraging or supporting action.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Follow-up to the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
1. What States should do to follow-up?
In its Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, page 15, “The Committee recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure that the recommendations contained in the present concluding observations are fully implemented.” This is a standard recommendation that the Committee includes in all the Concluding Observations for all countries under the section “Follow-up and dissemination”.
To support States with this task, OHCHR has developed a practical Guide on National Mechanisms for Reporting and Follow-up (NMRFs). These are national public mechanisms or structures that are mandated to coordinate and prepare reports to and engage with international and regional human rights mechanisms (including treaty bodies, the universal periodic review and special procedures), and to coordinate and track national follow-up and implementation of the treaty obligations and the recommendations emanating from these mechanisms. They may be ministerial, inter-ministerial or institutionally separate.
However, follow-up is not just a task for government bodies. The judiciary and Parliaments are also State actors who need to contribute to the implementation of the Concluding Observations.
In a recent judgment (2017), the High Court of South Africa has removed the application of a special defense for reasonable chastisement put forward by parents charged for corporal punishment at home, referring to the Concluding observations on the second periodic report of South Africa (page 27) as follows: “As recently as October 2016, the Committee had cause to comment on South Africa’s second report on the implementation of its obligations under the CRC.”
2. What does the Committee on the Rights of the Child do during the follow-up period?
The Committee has no official follow-up procedure or measures to undertake during this period. But the Committee – or rather one of its members (usually one of the country rapporteurs or task force member during the last country session of the State concerned) – can conduct country visits upon the State’s or children’s rights defenders’ request.
During such visits, Committee members can meet with government officials, civil society, children and other stakeholders to discuss the steps that have been taken – or that will be taken – to follow-up on the Committee’s recommendations.
The Committee does not have a budget for these country visits. If you want to invite a Committee member to do a country visit, you need to be able to cover his/her costs and specify that funding will be provided in your invitation.
3. What can I do during the follow-up period?
Once you have analysed the Committee’s Concluding Observations in depth and prioritised the recommendations that support your goals and strategies, your main role as a children’s rights defender is to monitor your country’s actions and encourage the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.
To fulfill this mission, you can:
- Contribute to the awareness raising of the general public and relevant national stakeholders by circulating the Committee’s Concluding Observations, including to the media, and translating them into the national language if the State did not do it.
- Meet and collaborate with inter-governmental groups in order to lobby ministers and officials to prepare a substantial response and action plan for the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.
- Work with Parliamentarians so that they can bring the implementation debate in Parliament.
- Produce your own annual reports to assess the State’s progress on the implementation of the recommendations.
- Involve and empower children to participate in your monitoring work.
Check the OHCHR practical guide for civil society on how to follow-up to UN recommendations for additional guidance and inspiration.
4. What can other UN bodies do during the follow-up period?
During the follow-up period, it is very likely that the human rights’ situation in your country will be reviewed by another UN body, e.g. by another a treaty body or the Universal Periodic Review.
This means that your country is likely to receive additional recommendations that may reinforce the recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as reinforce your work during the follow-up period.
This also means that other UN bodies can take up some of the recommendations made by the Committee and thus reinforce them.
Check our advocacy tips in the right-hand column of this page for ideas on how to cross-reference UN recommendations and take a holistic approach for the promotion and protection of children’s rights.