Pre-Session

The Committee will hold its pre-session as soon as the State report is received and three months before the session with the State (i.e. October 2019 for dialogue in January 2020). As per the current pre-sessions, the Committee will invite selected stakeholders, including UNICEF, other UN agencies, NHRIs, Ombudspersons, and children’s rights defenders, including children.

The pre-session is a one week meeting period that takes place in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). During the pre-session, the Committee meets with the children’s rights defenders they have decided to invite, based on the written inputs to State report they have received, to prepare for the country session with State representatives.

A country pre-session is a 2.5 hour confidential meeting between all Committee members, children’s rights defenders invited by the Committee and UN agencies representatives, like UNICEF, to discuss the situation of children’s rights in a given country. It is an opportunity for civil society to share information and concerns before the Committee’s country session with the State representatives of the country concerned.

  • Handbook for Adults Participating in the Pre-Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: EnglishFrançaisEspañol
  • Handbook for Children Participating in the Pre-Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: EnglishFrançaisEspañol

Learn more about the format of the meeting and what you will be expected to do if you are invited to a country pre-session by the Committee.

Children can also meet Committee members in a separate confidential children’s meeting if they request so in advance. Learn more about this meeting and how to request one.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Pre-session 

1. When does the pre-session take place?

The pre-session is scheduled when a State report is received by the Committee. The Committee meets three times a year for 4 weeks each time. The first three weeks are the session and the fourth one is the pre-session. The dates of the pre-session week are published on the Committee’s webpage and on the CRC Committee SRP calendar. The date and time of the country pre-session are confidential and are communicated to the selected participants only. The country pre-session takes place 3 months in advance to the related session.

2. Why is the country pre-session confidential and closed to selected participants?

All country pre-sessions are confidential because the Committee wants to ensure that every participant can speak freely about the real challenges in a country. It has shown to be the most effective way to prevent reprisals against those who provide sensitive information to the Committee. Country pre-sessions are closed because the Committee wants to have an informal interaction with all the participants. It is rather a small working meeting and therefore the Committee tries to invite those who can give the most comprehensive overview of the children’s rights situation in a country. The principles of confidentiality applies to all States, even if there are no major concerns.

3. Who is invited to a country pre-session?

Based on the relevance and scope of the reports received on time, the Committee invites representatives of selected organisations, bodies or groups to attend a country pre-session. Usually, those who provide more comprehensive information, such as national coalitions of NGOs, Ombudspersons for children and National Human Rights Institutions, are invited to the pre-session. The request must be made to the Committee’s Secretariat through the online platform while submitting the report. Children’s groups and organisations are also invited to this meeting. Children can request a separate private meeting with the Committee (the so-called “children’s meeting”) if they wish so.

4. Can you attend as observer?
No observers are allowed in the room and all participants must actively engage in the dialogue.
5. How does a country pre-session work?

Each country pre-session is divided into 4 main parts:

1. Oral presentations by the participants

Participants invited by the Committee make short oral statements. The length of the oral statements might vary according to the speaking time allocated to each organisation participating in the pre-session.

2. Round of Committee’s questions

The Committee’s country rapporteurs (2 members) or task force (3-4 members) ask a series of questions to the participants, which are not limited to the issues raised in their reports or oral statements.

3. Preparation and organisation of the answers

Participants have 15 minutes in total to prepare answers to the questions raised. They can decide on the order they will use to answer and who will answer which question. Participants may work together with other organisations to divide up the answers.

Tip: Participants need to take good notes of the questions asked by the Committee members

4. Interactive dialogue with the Committee

Once the preparation time is over, participants are given the floor to answer the Committee’s questions. All Committee members can intervene at any point with additional or follow-up questions.

6. What is the difference between country rapporteurs and task force?

For every country pre-session, the Committee appoints either 2 Country Rapporteurs or 1 Task Force of 3-4 members. This happens at the end of the previous session, about 3 months before the country pre-session. Both the Country Rapporteurs and the Task Force have the mandate to lead the dialogues with the State and children’s rights defenders. However, when a Task Force leads the country pre-session, the Chair might limit the number of questions raised by other members during the round of questions.

7. How can I know who are the country rapporteurs or members of the task force?

The Committee does not publicise the names of the Country Rapporteurs and Task Force members, but Child Rights Connect provides this information to all the pre-session participants and OHCHR does it upon request.

8. What is the difference between the country pre-session and the children’s meeting?

The country pre-session is an official meeting of the Committee with simultaneous interpretation provided by the UN and has a specific format. All the 18 Committee members have to attend the meeting. The children’s meeting is an informal 1 hour child-friendly meeting with no interpretation and with an open format. It is up to the children to decide how to handle the meeting. Not all the Committee members attend the children’s meeting, but usually the country rapporteurs and task force members do. Children’s meeting do not happen systematically and need to be scheduled in advance by the Committee Secretariat. Therefore, a formal meeting request is necessary. Both maeetings are confidential meetings and take place in the Committee’s meeting rooms.