Week Three: International Instruments Implicated in Grave Violations of Children's Human Rights and Mechanisms for Redress or Accountability

During my third week at DT Global, I had the opportunity to do research for one of DT Global’s partners to assist on an upcoming project proposal and the development of a human rights handbook. My research focused on the six grave violations of children’s human rights: (1) Killing and maiming of children, (2) Recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups, (3) Sexual violence against children, (4) Attacks against schools or hospitals, (5) Abduction of children, and (6) Denial of humanitarian access for children. I identified international instruments, including conventions, protocols, and treaties, in which these violations fall under and when the instrument was applicable. Furthermore, I researched available mechanisms for redress or accountability when a grave violation has occurred and precedent of its use in comparable situations.

Through my research I found various UN Conventions and resolutions that protect the human rights of children and work to prevent these six grave violations. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child makes all State Parties to the Convention responsible for the protection of the rights of each child in its jurisdiction. As a mechanism of enforcement, each State Parties must report the measures they have adopted which give effect to the rights recognized in the Convention and progress on the enjoyment of those rights. Reports to the Committee upholding the Convention must include a comprehensive understanding of implementation and any factors or difficulties that may affect the country’s fulfillment of its obligations. Additionally, UN Security Council resolution 1882 strongly condemns violations of applicable international law involving children, including each of the six grave violations. With the adoption of an additional resolution, resolution 1612, the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) was created for accountability and redress of a grave violation. If the MRM is triggered by a grave violation committed by a State Parties, the State Parties will be listed in the annexes of the Annual Report of the Secretary General and may only be removed once it has engaged in dialogue with the UN to develop and fully implement an Action Plan. Since the MRM was implemented, 38 action plans have been signed, 19 are currently under implementation, and 12 State Parties have fully complied with implementation and have been removed from the Annexes report.

In addition to the UN Conventions, there are regional conventions that condemn grave violations of children’s rights, including the American Convention on Human Rights. American States signatory to the Convention are responsible for all protections required due to a child’s condition as a minor and for the protection of the life of a child. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is responsible for upholding the American Convention on Human Rights. The court has jurisdiction to hear any case relating to the interpretation and application of the provision of the American Convention on Human Rights that is submitted to it, so long as the States Parties have recognized the jurisdiction of the Court. An example of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights at work is the case, Molina-Theissen v. Guatemala, in which the court determined the forced disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, a fourteen-year-old boy kidnapped by members of the Guatemalan Army, was a grave violation that breached articles of the Convention that protected the rights of the child. As a remedy, the court required the State to pay pecuniary damages to the family, complete an investigation involving finding the body of Marco, and that the State publicly announce and acknowledge its violation of the right.