IHREC attends UN Committee hearing on Ireland’s compliance with Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Commission recommends vetting of State contracts for children’s services on UN human rights standards
  • Ireland’s record under Convention scrutinised at UN hearing in Geneva
  • UN evaluation of Ireland’s compliance informed by Commission report

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has recommended the State reform its procurement of services for children, to ensure private contractors and non-state parties fully comply with UN human rights standards.

Ireland’s record under the Convention on the Rights of the Child is being examined today by a UN Committee at a hearing in Geneva, attended by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly TD, and senior government officials.

As the national human rights institution, the Commission’s recommendations will inform the UN Committee’s assessment of how Ireland is meeting its obligations under the Convention.

The Commission’s report recommends that future eligibility for Government contracts for children’s services include mandatory requirements for human rights compliance.

The State subcontracts a range of its functions for children including health, care work, immigration and asylum services. The Commission is concerned that accountability mechanisms are weakened where the State outsources its public functions to non-state parties.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan, who is attending the hearing today, noted significant improvements in the State’s protection and promotion of human rights, such as a ministerial voice at the cabinet table; a constitutional amendment on the rights of the child, and reforms to child and family law.

Speaking today, Chief Commissioner Logan said: “A great deal of work remains to be done. The principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child have not been consistently applied across all State activities that touch on the lives of children. Crucially, in the areas of health, care work, immigration and asylum, the State continues to outsource many of its functions to private contractors and non-state parties whose standards are not tested against Convention principles.”

“Our report directs the Committee’s attention to the need for a comprehensive human rights-lead revision of the State’s procurement practices. We must ensure that all private companies engaged by the State to work with, or for children are subject to rigorous human rights vetting and inspection that is not only informed by the Convention, but driven by it.”

The Commission’s report makes recommendations across a range of areas, including diversity in education, child poverty, Traveller children, homelessness, disability, asylum and direct provision, cultural inclusion, and the legacy of child abuse.

Ms Logan said the experience of children with disability requires a paradigm shift by the State away from a paternalistic view of disability stating: “We must leave behind the old charitable and medical models of disability where children with disabilities are viewed as passive recipients of decision making by people who think they know better.”

Ms Logan concluded: “There remains a vast cohort of Ireland’s children who due to their socio-economic, immigration status, disability or cultural identity continue to face exclusion, disadvantage and risk in Ireland in 2016. Today’s hearings shed light on these shortcomings, and place them firmly on the reform agenda not only for Minister Reilly, but for the next Government.”

The report outlines a range of areas where the State falls short of its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

  • Child-rights centred independent monitoring mechanisms (p10-11)
  • Public procurement and children’s rights (p11)
  • Child-friendly budgeting (p13)
  • Child health, including reproductive health and services (p20)
  • Poverty (p22)
  • Homelessness (p26)
  • The legacy of historical child abuse and gaps in child protection (p16-17)
  • Diversity in education (p28-31)
  • Asylum and direct provision (p40)
  • Family and Care Proceedings (p8)
  • Gender recognition (p14)

The Report by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on Ireland’s Combined Third and Fourth Periodic Reports was submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva in December 2015. It is available at this link: http://www.ihrec.ie/publications/list/ireland-and-the-united-nations-convention-on-the-r/

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For further information please contact Niamh Connolly communications@ihrec.ie or on 01 8589601/087 4399022 or follow us on Twitter @_ihrec

Notes for Editors:

  • Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. The Convention outlines in detail the standards that apply to the needs of children, and binds States to adhere to these standards. The Convention is informed by four core principles: non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development and respect for the views of the child.
  • States’ adherence to the Convention is periodically assessed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, an elected group of independent human rights experts in children’s rights. Ireland’s last examination by the Committee was in 2006. This hearing will combine Ireland’s third and fourth periodic examination. 
  • The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is accredited as an A status national human rights organisation by the International Coordination Committee (ICC), a global network of national human rights institutions. The ICC coordinates the relationship between the NHRIs and the United Nations human rights system by reviewing and accrediting the compliance of NHRIs with the UN Paris Principles.
  • The Irish Human Rights Commission was established by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The Commission has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights and equality in the State, to promote a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding and to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights and equality. The IHREC is tasked with reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of law, policy and practice relating to the protection of human rights and equality and with making recommendations to Government on measures to strengthen, protect and uphold human rights and equality accordingly. Visit our website: www.ihrec.ie
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