MANILA, 30 October 2018 – The ASEAN Dialogue on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Its Related Instruments was held by the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)-Philippines and AICHR-Singapore, in collaboration with Child Rights Coalition Asia and with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Manila on 25-26 October.

The dialogue sought to raise awareness and increase understanding on the implementation of the rights of the child by focusing on the three CRC Optional Protocols of the UNCRC, namely the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography, and the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure.

Unlike the UNCRC, ASEAN Member States are party to the UNCRC but have not ratified all of the Optional Protocols.  The discussions dealt with the possibilities and challenges of ratifying the protocols.

Experts and practitioners gave presentations on the three Optional Protocols and the UNCRC General Comment Number 20 during the 2-day dialogue.  The presenters included Atty. Wanchai Roujanavong, Vice Chair and Thailand’s Representative on Children’s Rights to the ACWC; Atty. Yasmeen Muhammad Shariff, Former Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Ahmad Taufan Damanik, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM); Atty. Dorine van Der Keur, Legal Consultant, ECPAT International; and Atty. Mikiko Otani, Member, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The dialogue also highlighted one of the 23 UNCRC General Comments, specifically General Comment Number 20, which focuses on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence.

The dialogue was a follow up to the AICHR and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) Training Workshop on the UNCRC held in Singapore in July 2017.

Participants to the dialogue included AICHR Representatives, ACWC Representatives on Children’s Rights, the ASEAN Secretariat, Philippine foreign affairs officials, Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development officials.

The ASEAN dialogue on the UNCRC and its Related Instruments is in line with AICHR’s mandates to enhance public awareness of human rights; promote capacity building for the effective implementation of international human rights treaty obligations undertaken by ASEAN Member States; and encourage ASEAN Member States to consider acceding to and ratifying international human rights instruments.