The Optional Protocol to the CRC on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC)

The Third Optional Protocol to the CRC on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC) sets out an international complaints procedure for child rights violations. It entered into force in April 2014, allowing children from states that have ratified to bring complaints about violations of their rights directly to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child if they have not found a solution at national level. Child Rights Connect has played a leading role in the drafting, adoption and ratification of OP3 CRC.

OP3CRC enterED into force on 14 April. Find out more!

What is the OP3 CRC?

The Third Optional Protocol to the CRC on a Communications Procedure (OP3 CRC) is the treaty which establishes an international complaints procedure for violations of child rights contained in:

  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • The Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC)
  • The Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC).

Before the adoption of OP3 CRC, the CRC was the only core international human rights treaty that did not have a communications procedure.

OP3 CRC provides two new ways for children to challenge violations of their rights committed by States:

  • A communication procedure, which enables children to bring complaints about violations of their rights to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, if they have not been fully resolved in national courts
  • An inquiry procedure for grave and systematic violations of child rights.

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Where are we now?

As of 14 January 2014, there are ten state parties to the Optional Protocol: Gabon, Thailand, Germany, Bolivia, Albania, Spain, Portugal, Monténégro, Slovakia, and Costa Rica.

Signatories in Total

As of 27 December 2013, 45 States have signed the Optional Protocol:

Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guniea-Bissau, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey and Uruguay.

To track signatures and ratifications see here.

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Drafting and adoption of the OP3 CRC

To give impetus the NGOs’ campaign for a Communications Procedure under the CRC, members of Child Rights Connect formed a Working Group on a Communications Procedure in 2008 under the umbrella of Child Rights Connect.

Through the coordination of Child Rights Connect, the advocacy was intensified to mobilise the support of UN Member States, UN experts and NGOs both in Geneva and at national level. By raising awareness of the need for this new treaty, including during side events during the Human Rights Council (HRC), a core group of friendly States backed the proposal.

Key landmarks in the drafting and adoption of OP3 CRC:

  • March 2009: Adoption of a HRC resolution to establish an Open-ended Working Group to discuss the possibility of elaborating a new communications procedure for the CRC
  • December 2009: The Open-ended Working Group to discuss the possibility of elaborating a new communications procedure for the CRC. Child Rights Connect and its Working Group were very involved in preparing for and participating in these meetings.
  • March 2010: A new HRC resolution was adopted changing the mandate of the Open-ended Working Group from ‘considering’ the need for a new OP to drafting the treaty.
  • June 2010: Expert consultation on the new Optional Protocol was organised by OHCHR
  • August 2010: Slovakia circulated a proposal for a draft to all UN missions and relevant stakeholders
  • December 2010 and February 2011: First and second rounds of negotiations for the new Optional Protocol
  • 19 December 2011: OP3 CRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
  • 28 February 2012: UN member States, who were a State party to the CRC, OPSC and/or OPAC were able to sign or ratify it

Throughout the drafting and adoption process, Child Rights Connect was a strong advocate for key provisions to be included in the text and to gain cross-regional support for this new treaty, by:

  • Participating in consultations
  • Working closely with the Open-ended Working Group
  • Delivering oral and written statements
  • Lobbying States at international and national level

As a result, a number of key provisions were included in the Optional Protocol, for example:

  • Enabling a child victim or their representative to submit a complaint regardless of national requirement about legal capacity or legal representation.
  • A full scope of application of the communications procedure to the CRC, OPSC and OPAC
  • A time-bound procedure, meaning that there is a limit for how long the communications procedure can take.
  • Provisions allowing the Committee to interpret the OP in a child sensitive manner.

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The ratification campaign

Having led and coordinated the NGOs’ international campaign for the drafting and adoption of OP3 CRC, Child Rights Connect founded Ratify OP3 CRC – the International Coalition for the OP3CRC on a Communications Procedure (International Coalition) in March 2012 to mobilise partners throughout the world to advocate for the ratification of this new treaty.

The International Coalition grew out of Child Rights Connect’s Working Group on a Communications Procedure, which coordinated the international campaign for the drafting and adoption of OP3 CRC.

The formation of the International Coalition

After the adoption of OP3 CRC, Child Rights Connect moved quickly to create a coordinating platform. This brings together national, regional and international NGOs and other non-State actors from all regions of the world.

Working closely with members of our past Working Group on a Communications Procedure, we supported the formation of the International Coalition in March 2012.

The International Coalition has a twelve-member Steering Committee of international and regional child rights NGOs led by two elected co-chairs, Child Rights Connect and Save the Children.

Ratify OP3 CRC - the International Coalition

The International Coalition was established to encourage the ratification and rapid entry into force of OP3 CRC. It is open to, and includes, international, regional and national NGOs and networks, human rights institutions and other non-governmental bodies which are committed to achieve rapid ratification and entry into force of OP3CRC. The International Coalition is led by a Steering Committee composed of international and regional child rights NGOs.

The missions of the International Coalition are to:

1. Raise awareness about OP3CRC,

2. Disseminate information, tools and ideas to enable interested partners to engage in the ratification campaign, and

3. Pursue the rapid entry into force of OP3CRC.
Key documents

All other key documents on the process can be found on the official OHCHR webpage on the new OP CRC.

Child Rights Connect has prepared a PowerPoint presentation on the campaign for internal briefings that is available for interested partners. If you would like to use this presentation, or if you would like some training on the campaign, contact Ms. Anita Goh, Advocacy Officer at Child Rights Connect, for more information.


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Join the campaign for OP3 CRC

Join the campaign to ensure that children in your country can have access to justice at international level.

To find out more about OP3 CRC and become a member of the International Coalition, visit its website at: www.ratifyop3crc.org.

To find out if your State has signed or ratified OP3 CRC, see the list of States parties or signatory States. For more information on OP3 CRC, take a look at various online resources:

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International Coalition Contact

For more information on the International Coalition for the OPCRC on a Communications Procedure , or if you need any advice regarding advocacy arguments, please contact the International Coalition or visit its official website.

To join the Coalition, please fill in the membership application form in English, French or Spanish, sign it and send it back to the Coalition for review.

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