Secretary-General renews calls for treaty’s universalization

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led a chorus of United Nations officials – Leila Zerrougui among them – in hailing Somalia’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in renewing the call for the last remaining country that has yet to join the treaty to do so.

Somalia deposited its instrument of ratification at UN Headquarters in New York yesterday during the annual treaty event held in conjunction with the General Assembly’s high-level debate, formalizing the process of ratification started earlier this year.

Ms. Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict, attended the event.

With its ratification, the Horn of Africa nation became the 196th State party to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The United States is now the only country that has not ratified it.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the Government of Somalia’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an important measure which binds the Government to ensure specific protections for all children in the country,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

Adopted in 1989, the Convention is the world’s strongest commitment to promote and respect the human rights of children, including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence and from any form of discrimination, and to have their views heard.

Mr. Ban encouraged the US “to join the global movement and help the world reach the objective of universal ratification,” and affirmed the UN’s support in these efforts.”

SRSG Zerrougui  commented on Somalia”s ratification in a joint statement with Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Marta Santos Pais, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children and Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In the statement, they said Somalia’s action is “a significant and very welcome step” toward realizing the rights of the country’s 6.5 million children, who face enormous challenges. Somalia today has one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world, alarming malnutrition rates, and very high levels of violence affecting children.

“By becoming the 196th nation to ratify the Convention, Somalia has committed to uphold the dignity and worth of every child and translate the obligations of the CRC into concrete actions, especially for those children in greatest need and at greatest risk,” they stated.

They also said: “The provisions of the Convention provide a legal framework for the Somalian Government’s efforts to uphold children’s rights, as it continues its work to put in place comprehensive domestic legislation aimed at protecting children.”

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in a separate statement, also welcomed the ratification and repeated its call for universal ratification of the Convention, adding that it looked forward to engaging with the US.

The Committee, which monitors implementation of the treaty, also urged States to ratify the three Optional Protocols to the Convention that deal with protecting children from trafficking, prostitution and child pornography prohibiting their recruitment in armed conflict and allowing children to bring forward their complaints to the UN if their rights are being abused.

Somalia was among 24 Member States that undertook 31 treaty actions during this year’s event at UN Headquarters, on legal instruments covering issues such as human rights, international trade and development, penal matters, disarmament, and environment, among others.

Sources: UN News Centre and OSRSG-CAAC