U.N.'s historic Apia summit to inspire regional meetings

The historic 84th Extraordinary Session of the Convention on the Rights of the Child finished on Friday, after three in-depth Pacific country reviews and a preparatory session for another.

Tuvalu, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Cook Islands each delivered reports on the last five years of work for children in their countries, revealing both their successes and challenges on improving child rights. 

Next week the countries will receive their final recommendations from the Committee and will be expected to deliver on those before their next periodic review in five years time.

While just 13 out of the 18 members of the committee on the C.R.C. could attend this first ever regional session, Chair Luis Pedernera Reynas said the Apia based meeting was a long dream finally realised.

“For many years, we spoke and dreamed of holding a session outside Geneva,” he said.

“By holding a session in the Pacific, we wanted to draw the world’s attention to the pressing issues affecting the enjoyment of children’s rights in the region.

“This week, the children we met with told us that all stakeholders need to work harder to guarantee their rights to participation, education, health, climate change and freedom from violence.”

Reiterating what his colleagues in the committee and in the United Nations have said this week, Mr. Pedernera Reynas said the depth and breadth of interaction with the community and children of the Pacific would have been impossible from Switzerland, where sessions have previously always been held.

He said the U.N. treaty bodies, of which there are ten, will be looking closely at holding their sessions regionally again. 

“Our future meetings will be based on our experience in Samoa. We need as much information as possible after this session to have the best elements available to review and consider every single element.

“The countries should also know that we are not supermen and superwomen, back there in Geneva. We are human beings, and we have a role to carry out, and that role must be visible to society.

“They need to learn, they should know they can reach us and come to us, particularly the children.”

He said the Samoan experience allowed the committee better understand the Pacific context, and develop the best recommendations for the countries on review.

“Our role is to tell the states what are their outstanding issues that must be dealt with. My first impression is that Samoa is a real turning point in the workings in the treaty bodies and that we must take the discussion further.

“I am sure we will start to receive proposals from other countries so that we go to their regions."

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