National human rights institutions
The Lanzarote Convention requires Parties to set up or designate independent national or local institutions for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child provided with specific resources and responsibilities. These institutions are generally accredited as national human rights institutions in accordance with the Paris Principles adopted by the United Nations General Assembly or are fully or partly in compliance with these requirements. A number of countries have created such bodies which are known by different names and involve different responsibilities and functions like Children’s Ombudsperson, Children’s Advocate, Child Rights Commissioner, Committee on Child Rights.
National human rights institutions and other national mechanisms are generally mandated to encourage ratification of/ accession to international human rights instruments, promote and ensure the harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with these instruments and their effective implementation. The Lanzarote Committee welcomes the approach that this competence is also applied to the Lanzarote Convention. The Convention has been in fact signed and ratified by the 46 Council of Europe Member States - the current status of ratification is available here. In addition, the Russian Federation has also signed and ratified the Convention; Tunisia acceded to it and thus became the first non-European State Party.
Contact the Secretariat at [email protected]
Promotion and implementation of the Convention
In line with the Lanzarote Convention, one of the tasks of the independent national or local institutions designated for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child should be to promote public awareness of sexual exploitation and abuse of children and their long term negative effects, as well as to provide education and training. In order to support this mandate, publications and materials produced by the Council of Europe to prevent sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children are available for use and dissemination in several languages.
In this context, national human rights institutions and other national mechanisms are also encouraged to join the initiative to mark the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (“the European Day”), held on 18th November of each year. The general objectives of the European Day are to
- raise public awareness of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children, and the need to prevent such acts;
- facilitate open discussion on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and help to prevent and eliminate the stigmatization of victims;
- promote the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention and the work of the Lanzarote Committee.
Any national human rights institution or other national mechanism can organize activities with the aim to:
- raise awareness on the issue;
- educate different target groups and provide a platform for professional discussions;
- share information and enhance cooperation through multi-stakeholder meetings;
- enhance visibility through liaison with the media; and
- disseminate relevant Council of Europe materials to key stakeholders.
The human rights mandate of these institutions encompasses a wide range of different functions such advisory, advocacy, monitoring and many times quasi-judicial functions. Accordingly, national human rights institutions and other national mechanisms designated to promote and protect the rights of the child play a crucial role in supporting and monitoring of the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention at the national level.
National human rights institutions and other national mechanisms are encouraged to contact the representative of their country in the Lanzarote Committee for further support and information.
Monitoring and engagement with the Committee
The monitoring of the Lanzarote Convention is divided by rounds, each round concerning a theme and all Parties are monitored at the same time. During both thematic and special monitoring rounds, the Lanzarote Committee seeks the views of other stakeholders on the implementation of the Lanzarote Convention in the Parties to the Convention. National human rights institutions and other national mechanisms may submit replies to the monitoring questionnaires and – at the latest within two months from the publication of a given Party’s reply on the website of the Lanzarote Committee – also comment on Parties’ replies.
The replies/comments shall be submitted to the Secretariat in accordance with deadlines and with a clear indication whether the information is public or confidential. The involvement of children in the drafting of the replies is encouraged.
Once the implementation report of the monitoring round is adopted by the Lanzarote Committee, the national human rights institutions and other national mechanisms may encourage their governments to implement the general and the relevant specific recommendations, then follow-up and monitor this procedure. In addition, wide dissemination and reference to the implementation report and the recommendations are also welcome.
Any national human rights institutions or other national mechanisms may draw the attention of the Lanzarote Committee to the fact that a Party seems not to implement general or specific recommendations of an implementation report and request follow-up on it by addressing such request to the [email protected]
Two umbrella organizations of national human rights institutions and other national mechanisms hold participatory status with the Lanzarote Committee:
- the European Network of Ombudspersons for children (ENOC) and
- the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI).
National human rights institutions and other national mechanisms depending on their membership are encouraged to contact ENOC or ENNHRI and ask them to voice their views and recommendations where relevant to the work of the Committee.