"Golden age" of children’s rights could be over

A Swiss expert who was elected chairman of the UN committee for the rights of the child on Monday, has warned that commitment to children’s rights is waning.

This content was published on May 30, 2011 minutes and agencies

“The golden age of the rights of the child may be behind us,” said Jean Zermatten after his election.

He said the committee faced numerous challenges, including the “endemic delay” in examining reports submitted by different states.

He also pointed to a hardening of attitudes and laws in regard to young people in the context of public security policy, and to ever more hostile attitudes towards young immigrants.

The committee made up of 18 independent experts was set up in 1991 to monitor progress made under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which came into force in 1990. Its current meeting in Geneva will last until June 17.

The Convention has been ratified by 193 states – more than any other.  Only the United States and Somalia have so far failed to do so.

Zermatten was previously vice-president of the committee. For 25 years he was a judge in the minors’ court in the canton of Valais, and now heads the International Institute for the Rights of the Child (IDE).

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