HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 598: 11 January 2012

Reporting on Convention on the Rights of the Child
Later this month, the Cook Islands Government, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, will be making its first ever appearance before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child since acceding to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1997. The Cook Islands will be reporting to the United Nation Committee’s 59th session on 26 January 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Countries are required to submit an initial report within two years of ratification and then provide a periodic report every 5 years thereafter,” said Secretary of Internal Affairs, Ms. Bredina Drollet. “A lot of effort was put in in preparation for the initial report in 2002 including wide community consultations, and then again in 2008, however, the initial report was only recently submitted in September 2010”.
The initial report outlined that, while not child specific, fundamental human rights are enshrined in the Constitution as well as incorporated into other legislation of the Cook Islands. The report showed that much of the existing Cook Islands legislation was consistent with the principles of the convention, however, further strengthening could be undertaken progressively to better protect the rights of the child.
In October 2011, a pre-sessional working group of the committee reviewed the Cook Islands report alongside a parallel report prepared by the non government organisation Punanga Tauturu Incorporated.
“As a result of that pre-sessional review, a list of issues was sent to the Cook Islands Government to respond to in preparation for the meeting in January 2012”, said Drollet. “The list sought an update on any new activities undertaken since 2008 as well as more recent data”.
Much progress has happened, including the development of the Family Law Bill, which will give legal effect to child protection provisions in the convention, as well as the drafting of the new Education Bill which enshrines protections around the child’s right to education. While these are still in draft form, there has been a momentum of consultation and review over the past year with expectations that the bills will be tabled in Parliament in 2012. Some further work around better national coordination of policies on children over the coming year will be undertaken to improve the existing information around different aspects of the child for example in the areas of welfare, health, education and within the legal system, to enable better monitoring and therefore better policy approaches.
The initial and ongoing reporting processes for the Convention of the Rights of the Child are important accountability mechanisms for country states to benchmark and review its progress against the international obligations for the protection of children’s rights. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is considering an annual publication of the country’s progress against the articles in the convention and will pursue this option with the relevant Government departments over the coming year.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.