General Comments

The Committee produces General Comments to explain the rights contained in the CRC, the OPSC and OPAC and provide guidance with respect to particular issues. This helps States improve both the way they write their reports and the way they implement the CRC and its Optional Protocols. NGOs with relevant expertise can get involved in the preparation of General Comments.

What are General Comments?

General Comments provide an authoritative interpretation of the rights contained in the articles and provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols on the Sale of Children (OPSC) and Children Involved in Armed Conflict (OPAC). They are based on the Committee’s experience of monitoring reports from States parties and the systematic violations, misunderstood provisions or emerging issues relevant to the treaties.
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The main purpose of a General Comment is to improve the implementation of the CRC, OPSC and OPAC by increasing understanding of particular provisions, ultimately helping States parties fulfil their related obligations. In addition, General Comments can:

  • Make valuable contributions to the development and application of international law
  • Provide an authoritative interpretation of treaty obligations, as well as guidance about particular issues
  • Draw States parties’ attention to inadequacies in implementation and assist States in understanding how to fulfil their treaty obligations
  • Reinforce links with other international instruments which they often reference

Existing General Comments

The General Comments of the Committee on the Rights of the Child are available on the OHCHR page

How can you take part in General Comments?

General Comments are prepared on an on-going basis by the Committee and generally take approximately eighteen months to draft.

Our fact sheet (in English, Español, Français) gives more information about how NGOs can take part in General Comments.

 

Consultation process for General Comments

When writing General Comments, the Committee often consults with organisations or individuals with expertise in the topic. The Committee holds different types of consultations, including:

  • Working with small expert groups
  • Holding online or regional consultations with relevant stakeholders, including children
  • Circulating a draft General Comment for comments to a limited number of NGOs, UN agencies and independent experts on the topic

If you or your organisation has expertise on a topic under consideration and you are interested in finding out if there are upcoming consultations, please contact Child Rights Connect and/or the Committee’s Secretariat.

Using General Comments

General Comments may help stakeholders develop a better understanding of the CRC, OPSC or OPAC’s provisions and what needs to be done to implement these provisions. They may help in strengthening national advocacy and be used as a framework for accountability. They can also be used by stakeholders to push for changes in legislation.

National courts may refer to General Comments to clarify legislative provisions. In some cases, national courts have based judgments on treaty jurisprudence, including General Comments.

General Comments may also encourage States parties, UN agencies and NGOs to work on specific issues addressed in a General Comment while moving towards full implementation of the CRC.