Malta’s review under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – (2) Concluding Observations

This second article summarizes the Concluding Observations on Malta issued by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and follows our first article that focused on shadow reports submitted by civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

All the review documents (State Report, List of Issues, Civil Society Input, List of Delegation, Concluding Observations) may be found on the OHCHR site, under Malta.

What are Concluding Observations?

Malta is required to submit regular state reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on how rights provided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child are implemented. Following an analysis of these reports and of the shadow reports presented by interested entities, the CRC adopted Concluding Observations on Malta wherein it presented its concerns and recommendations.

Concluding Observations should be widely publicised in the State party as they serve as a basis for national debates on the improvement in the enjoyment by children of their fundamental human rights. Malta is also expected to follow up the recommendations provided in the Concluding Observations, as these will be looked at in the Committee’s next review.

What did the Committee on the Rights of the Child say about Malta?

Several topics were addressed by the Committee, including the allocation of resources, cooperation with civil society, children’s rights and the business sector, civil rights and freedoms, family environment and alternative care, disability, basic health and welfare, violence, non-discrimination, leisure and cultural activities, special protection measures and administration of juvenile justice. The Committee based its Concluding Observations on national and shadow reports, as summed up in our first article focusing on reports submitted by civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

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Malta’s review under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – (1) Shadow Reports

This is the first of two articles bring you information on Malta’s review by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In this article we’re looking at shadow reports submitted by civil society organisations and other stakeholders, whilst in the second article we’ll be summarising the Committee’s Concluding Observations on Malta.

What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

On 20 November 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which came into force on 2 September 1990. This Convention is composed of 41 articles and guarantees children of State Parties rights, separately from adulthood, that are classified in different themes.

Indeed, the Convention provides children survival rights (e.g. the right to life and basic needs such as nutrition or medical services), development rights (e.g. education, play, culture, freedom of thought, conscience or religion), protection rights (e.g. protecting children against exploitation, harm, neglect, abuse, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, protection in employment) and participation rights (e.g. freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly).

Thus, “the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty in history” provides children until the age of 18 a special protected time, “in which (they) must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity”.

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Malta and Human Rights: It’s Time for the UPR

Malta’s turn is up soon. On 14 November 2018, Malta will be questioned on the advancements of its human rights thanks to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)  process, with the distribution of the report taking place on 16 November 2018.

So what is this UPR?

The UPR is a particular procedure that comprises a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States. It gives each State the chance to declare what actions or steps it has taken to improve the human rights situation in its country and to discuss the challenges that State may be facing when it comes to these rights.

Implemented by the Human Rights Council, the UPR single-handedly is the only current mechanism that promotes and shares the best practices on human rights around the globe.

The objective of the UPR

The aim of the Universal Periodic Review is to assess the State’s human rights records and point out any violations when these occur. The UPR can also provide technical help to the State and expand its capacity to mitigate any challenges on human rights.

Another one of its objectives is to promote the sharing of best practices among States and other stakeholders such as NGOs. The ultimate aim of the UPR is to improve the human rights situation in every country, with momentous consequences for people around the globe.

On  14  November, Malta’s review will commence at 2.30pm and finish at around 6 pm.

Can Non-governmental organizations participate in the UPR?

NGOs are called in a pre-review session to submit information, which is then added to the ‘other stakeholders’ report.  The information they give can then be referred to by any of the States taking part in the interactive session during the review.

NGOs can also attend the Universal Periodic Review Working Group sessions. They can also make Statements at the regular session of the Human Rights Council when the outcome of the State review is being deliberated.

Last Friday, aditus Director Neil Falzon attended a pre-session of the UPR, where he delivered a presentation on behalf of aditus foundation and the Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM).

The pre-session was attended by several state missions based in Geneva, and served as an information-gathering exercise for them as they prepare their questions and recommendations for Malta.

The session was organized by the NGO UPR-Info.

What steps are taken following the review?

The State should implement the recommendations appended in the final outcome. The UPR makes sure that all States are responsible for the implementation or failure to implement these recommendations. The Council will also address the issues when States fail to co-operate.

The Human Rights Council will decide on the measures to take when a State persists in not cooperating with the Univeral Periodic Review.

In our next blog post on the UPR, we’ll give you a detailed account of Neil’s presentation so that you can follow the several stages leading to the procedure’s final report on Malta.