Side Event: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Germany's Ratification of the Third Optional Protocol to the UN CRC
(Statement as prepared for delivery by Ambassador Wittig at a side-event on the Ratification of the Third Optional Protocol to the UN Conference of the Right of the Child on a Communications Procedure – Making Children’s Rights a Reality)
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"Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
Let me begin by thanking Save the Children and the International Coalition for the OPCRC for initiating today’s event to mark the first anniversary/birthday of the Third Optional Protocol to the CRC.
I am happy and proud to announce that just this morning, exactly one year after the signing of the Optional Protocol, I deposited our instrument of ratification for the Third Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure to the UN Treaty Section. Germany is therefore now the third country to become a State Party to this new significant human rights instrument.
The responsiveness with which many states initially reacted to this Optional Protocol is impressive and will hopefully not relent. Only two months after its adoption by the General Assembly it was open to signatures by States. Subsequently, the first 20 states – Germany being one of them –signed the Optional Protocol during a public ceremony in Geneva last year.
From the beginning, my government stressed the importance of a swift ratification process in order to contribute our share in ensuring it enters into force in time. Reaching this goal was mainly fostered by two important aspects: First, by an intense and determined cooperation between the involved branches of government, especially by the devoted attitude of the officials in charge. And second, by the harmonious interplay between the German parliament and a civil society, that actively engaged in favor of the ratification. We are very grateful for their commitment and advocacy work in this regard
While the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the two first optional protocols provide for an extensive protection of children and their rights, in practice many children still experience violations of these rights in various forms. Whether they have to work, cannot attend school, are abused or do not receive adequate medical treatment, we have to give them a better voice and ensure their participation. With this new protocol, children may now appeal to the UN if they face violations of their human rights. The United Nations will be able to help and protect children better and more effectively. It is only when children have the right to be children, that is to play, learn and communicate without fear of beeing discriminated against or suffering from violence that they will be able to grow up to be content and responsible adults. Our societies depend on a healthy and prospering generation of children – they are our future.
The Optional Protocol will enter into force once ten countries will have ratified it. It is therefore of great importance that more member states follow the examples of Thailand, Gabon and my own country and become State Parties as early as possible. From our own experience we know that ratification usually entails a long administrative process. However, strong political will is necessary to accelerate the process and we encourage everyone to do their utmost to guarantee a speedy ratification .
Children deserve our full attention and we need to promote, protect and fulfill their rights. Let us strive as one to achieve a better future for our children.