On 20 July 2017, the 5th and 6th periodic reports that Belgium is required to draw up in accordance with article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been transmitted to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, within the deadlines.
The drafting of the report was coordinated by the secretariat of the National Commission for the Rights of the Child, in close collaboration with the members of the intergovernmental body of the Commission and on the basis of contributions from government administrations. The viewpoints of civil society have been sought after through their representation in the independent NCRC advisory body.
The revision of the UN Guidelines on periodic reporting in 2015 significantly limited the size of State party reports. It wass therefore impossible to render justice to all developments in the children’s rights realm in Belgium. In respect of the indivisibility of the rights of the child, the NCRC advisory body suggested highlighting seven priority themes concerning the rights of the child in Belgium, with a particular attention for vulnerable groups: migration, poverty, participation in mandatory protection measures, youth assistance and mental health, disability, education and justice.
These suggestions were followed by the intergovernmental body, which added an eighth thematic to it: an integrated policy on the rights of the child. They are the basis of this periodic report.
The draft report was presented to the advisory body of the NCRC on 20 February 2017. The formal and public opinion resulting from the discussions in this body shows in particular that the draft report could more systematically seize the opportunity to indicate the areas of improvement and the obstacles encountered in respect of child rights implementation in Belgium, as well as specify whether budget allocations are sufficient to ensure the full implementation of the instruments adopted in the area of children’s rights. In addition, the advisory body made specific suggestion on the following themes, following the structure of the draft state report: key data; independent monitoring mechanism; resource allocation; training on the rights of the child; best interest of the child; respect for the views of the child; preschool child care; youth support; children with disabilities; mental health ; health care ; adequate standard of life; right to education; right to leisure; children in migration; minors in conflict with the law; and ratification of international human rights instruments.
The intergovernmental body of the CNDE took note of these remarks and the draft report has been adapted to take some into account.
The National Child Rights Indicators, developed by the NCRC, are annexed to Belgium’s periodic report and aim to respond to the demand for statistical data from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
The report was discussed in Coormulti on June 19, 2017 and was then presented to the NCRC members in plenary session of July 6, 2017. The report was adopted by consensus among the present voting members.
For this reporting cycle for Belgium, the alternative and parallel reports of non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions are awaited by the Committee by 1st March 2018.
The pre-session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, during which the list of issues will be drawn up for Belgium, is scheduled from 4 to 8 June 2018.