MISSISSAUGA, ON, April 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Today at the United Nations, a quiet victory is taking place. It's a victory that will amplify the voices of children who've been ignored, neglected, abused and overlooked.
Thanks to a landmark international treaty that enters into force today, children whose rights have been violated can now bring their grievances directly to the United Nations. The treaty, called the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child – or OP3 CRC for short – allows children to bring complaints directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The UN will then investigate their claim and can direct governments to take action.
Canadian child rights champion, Sara Austin, designed the treaty as part of her graduate studies in 2006. For the past eight years, she has campaigned to have it adopted by the UN.
World Vision is calling on all UN member states, including Canada, to ratify this important treaty. Only children from countries that ratify can use the treaty to seek justice. So far 10 countries – the threshold required for the treaty to become international law – have ratified. An additional 45 countries have signed the protocol, indicating their intention to ratify.
"As a graduate student, I wanted to write a thesis that would have a purpose and not just gather dust. Eight years later it has become an international treaty that will force governments to be accountable for their promises to protect children," says Sara Austin, child rights advocate and director at World Vision Canada, who will address a special event at the UN in New York today.
"Tragically, the rights of children are often neglected by decision makers and children's views and opinions ignored. This new treaty gives children the ability to be heard directly by the United Nations and have a say in holding governments accountable," says Austin.
"Every day we witness violations of children's most basic rights. Children are fighting to survive, let alone thrive. They experience discrimination, violence in their communities, schools and homes, as well as a lack of access to basic services," says Austin.
The first ten countries to ratify the OP3 CRC treaty are Albania, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Gabon, Germany, Monténégro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Thailand.
The OP3 CRC allows children, groups of children, or their representatives to approach the UN if their rights are not being protected in their country and they have exhausted all domestic remedies to seek justice. It also allows any interested party to provide information about grave or systematic violations of child rights to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (through the inquiry procedure).
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our News Centre worldvision.ca
SOURCE: World Vision Canada
For further information: For more information or to arrange an interview with Sara Austin, please contact: Tiffany Baggetta - cell: 416-305-9612, Tiffany_Baggetta@worldvision.ca; Britt Hamilton - cell: 416-419-1321, Britt_Hamilton@worldvision.ca