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1. General description

By virtue of article 43 of the Convention a Committee on the Rights of the Child was installed to assess the progress made by the States regarding the fulfilment of their obligations. The members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child do not represent their country, Government or any other organization to which they may belong, they are solely accountable to the children of the world. Composed of ten independent experts serving in their personal capacity, the Committee's mandate derives from the provisions and principles of the Convention. The members of the Committee are elected for a period of four years and meet at least twice a year in Geneva Switzerland The term of office of five of the members who were elected during the first elections comes to an end after two years. The Committee can therefore have a different composition every two years.

The Committee is charged with the task of monitoring the implementation of the Convention. Its responsibilities consist mainly of examining the progress made by States Parties in fulfilling their obligations under the Convention. There is no practical possibility for the Committee to monitor in detail the implementation of the Convention in each country. The Committee prefers to adopt an approach that emphasizes the importance of discussion about the rights of the child in a country by focusing on the most crucial and imminent problems and suggesting possible remedies. The Committee is also entrusted with a decisive and important function- the promotion of international co-operation and solidarity, and the consideration of forms of technical assistance and advice. The Committee can therefore play a catalizing role in this area, encouraging the combined action between States, United Nations bodies and other competent bodies, including NGOs, with a view to foster the implementation of the Convention. It should however be noted that the Committee can only receive or consider information concerning countries which have ratified the Convention. It is not authorized to examine individual complaints concerning violations of the rights of the child.

2. Procedures regarding the discussion of State Party reports

When a State Party submits a report, as required by article 44 of the Convention, members of the Committee gather for a pre-sessional working group to prepare the discussion at the next session. The working group devotes about three hours to a country's report. Beside the State Party report, information from other UN bodies and NGOs are also taken into account. These organizations are then invited to take part in the preparatory meetings.

The working group writes a letter to the State Party with an invitation to the plenary session. It also sends to the latter a list of possible points of concern which specifies the areas of interest for the forthcoming discussion. This enables the State Party to prepare itself for the discussion at the plenary session. This, however, does not exclude the possibility for the Committee to tackle new issues during the plenary session.

At the plenary session, the State Party is given the opportunity to respond to the points on the list. Generally, the UN bodies present do not intervene during the plenary country discussions. As for NGOs they cannot intervene either. The understanding is that these organizations bring their contribution at the pre-sessional deliberations.

Finally, once the Committee hears the State Party, it then agrees on "Concluding Observations" which are statements of the Committee's findings.