1. General description

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the only international human rights treaty that expressly gives NGOs a role in monitoring its implementation. Under article 45 (a) of the Convention, the Committee on the Rights of the Child may invite specialised bodies, UNICEF and other competent bodies, including individual NGOs and national coalitions, to submit an alternative report.

The Committee particularly seeks relevant and reliable information from NGOs on areas where the government report does not give sufficient information and on areas of concern not covered or, in the opinion of the NGOs covered incorrectly or misleadingly. NGOs therefore have a major role to play in providing information on the practical implementation or lack of implementation of the Convention.

The alternative report of NGOs would be a section by section analysis of the State Party report and should follow the general guidelines regarding the form and content of the reports submitted to the Committee. This will enable the Committee to compare the government report with the NGO information.

Regarding the form, the alternative report should:

- Avoid mentioning any subjective opinions

- Avoid using information worded in a tone that may be considered to be overly political

- Include an abstract or summary of the report (in English) in order to highlight the key issues

- Be no longer than thirty pages

- Be submitted in one of the three official working languages of the Committee (English, French, Spanish)

- Be submitted three months after the government report has been received by the Centre for Human Rights in Geneva

- Be submitted to the NGO Group or directly to the Centre for Human Rights in Geneva

- Be available in twelve copies so that it can be distributed to the Committee members and the Secretariats of the Committee and the NGO Group.

Regarding the content, the alternative report should :

- Point out relevant legislation and statistics to support or contradict the information provided by the government.

- Seek to analyse the implementation of legislation in order to give an accurate picture of the practice in the country.

- Point out the principal preoccupations related to the implementation of the Convention.

- Indicate where there is a need to modify current legislation in order to bring it into line with the Convention.

- Include concrete recommendations as to what can be done to improve the situation of children in their country.

2. Procedures regarding the working group of the Committe on the Rights of the Child

The pre-sessional working group of the Committee meets in private at least twice a year to identify in advance the main questions to be discussed with State Parties who will appear before the Committee during the next session. However, NGOs who submit written information in advance can also be invited to attend the meeting related to the country on which they are able to provide expert advice. Participation of NGOs or coalitions in the working group allows Committee members to ask follow-up questions and obtain an alternative view of the government report. The information provided by NGOs can be used in the elaboration of questions to be sent to the government for their considerations before the plenary session.

In order to participate in the working group meeting, NGOs should:

- Clearly state in the cover letter accompanying the report the request to attend working group

- Give their opinion on the State Party report

- Provide an update of any new information since the submission of written documentation

- Provide information on government-NGO consultation on government report

For maximum impact of NGO reports, please refer to Guidelines for NGOs Preparing Alternative Reports

NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child (NGO Group) is a coalition of international non-governmental organisations, which work together to facilitate the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The NGO Group is presently composed of forty-one international non-governmental organisations, enjoying consultative status with ECOSOC, directly involved, by virtue of their aims and activities, in the implementation of the Convention.

The NGO Group usually meets twice a year in Geneva in order to co-ordinate its action and develop joint strategies. UNICEF participates as an observer, and has always support to the NGO Group. The NGO Group has a Liaison Unit in order to enhance its role in promoting and supporting co-ordination and continuous dialogue with the Committee on the Rights of the Child. The purpose of the post of Liaison Unit is to enhance co-operation and interaction between the global NGO community and the Committee.