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Reports to the United Nations
Ireland has signed up to many international human rights agreements, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (see the full list of Ireland's Ratification Status here). Every 5-10 years, a committee of independent experts checks that the Irish Government is keeping the promises it made under each of these agreements, including to respect and protect children’s rights.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reviewed Ireland’s record of implementing children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1998, 2006 and 2016.
During the most recent review, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office sent a report to the Committee with information about the issues affecting children in Ireland and recommendations for the changes needed to laws, policies and practices to improve children’s lives.
The Ombudsman for Children and other staff from the Office attended a meeting (called a ‘pre-sessional hearing’) with the Committee in June 2015, along with other organisations such as the Children’s Rights Alliance. The Committee also met with some young people, to hear directly from them about the issues facing children and young people in Ireland.
The Committee then questioned representatives from the Government about how it has protected, or failed to protect, children’s rights at a meeting in January 2016, and published its ‘Concluding Observations’ in February 2016. This document sets out the Committee’s concerns about the protection of children’s rights in Ireland and its recommendations for the Government in many different areas, including housing, health and living standards, education, discrimination, children with disabilities, migrant and asylum-seeking children, poverty and budgeting.
We welcome the Committee’s Concluding Observations.
Universal Periodic Review Process
Under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, countries in the United Nations examine each other’s records of implementing human rights.
This is a human rights monitoring process of the UN Human Rights Council and it allows countries to check whether their peers (other countries) are respecting the international agreements they have signed up to, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In September 2015, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office sent a written report to the UN Human Rights Council before its second examination of Ireland’s human rights record. This report highlighted and made recommendations about children’s rights issues in Ireland, including child welfare and protection, youth justice, asylum and immigration, child poverty, homelessness, health services, and education.
We work together with Ombudspersons for Children (sometimes known as Commissioners for Children) in other countries. This work can include organising meetings and events on important issues affecting children, and sharing information to support the development of policy and legislation across Europe that respects and protects children’s rights.
European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC)
The European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) is a network of independent offices which have been set up in European countries to promote children’s rights. The Ombudsman for Children’s Office is a member of this network, along with offices in 33 other countries.
In September 2016, the Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, was elected to be one of the five people who serve on the Bureau; the body that runs ENOC and decides on the areas that the organisation will focus on.
UNICEF Meeting in New York
In November 2016, the Ombudsman for Children travelled to New York on behalf of ENOC to speak at a meeting with UNICEF staff from across the world. The role of ENOC members in supporting countries who are trying to make sure that children are fully respected as ‘rights-holders’ was talked about.
ENOC Seminar 2016
The Ombudsman for Children’s Office hosted a 2 day ENOC seminar on “Equal Opportunities for All Children and Young People in Education” in June 2016. Twenty representatives from 12 ENOC member organisations took part.
Many different issues were talked about at this seminar, including reductions in education funding, access to pre-primary school, access to education for children from minority groups (for example, Roma children) and access to education for children with special needs.
You can find ENOC’s website here.
British and Irish Network of Ombudsman and Children Commissioners (BINOCC)
The British and Irish Network of Ombudsman and Children’s Commissioners (BINOCC) links the 4 United Kingdom Commissioners for Children (in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and the Ombudsman for Children in the Republic of Ireland to promote the sharing of information and discussions about common areas of concern which are affecting the rights of children.
BINOCC meeting in Dublin, 2016
A meeting between the Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, and the 4 United Kingdom Commissioners was held in our offices in Dublin in January 2016. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs at the time, Dr James Reilly, attended part of this meeting to talk about the protection of children from violence and the banning of corporal punishment.