UNITAR NYO and OLA collaborate for a Seminar on: International Treaty Law and Practice, with emphasis on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

19 and 20 November 2013, New-York , United States - At the 2005 World Summit, Member States specifically recognized the “need for universal adherence to and implementation of the rule of law at both the national and international levels”.  The Summit outcome document also appreciated the importance of States becoming parties to and implementing conventions deposited with the Secretary-General in areas such as human rights.  In light of such developments, UNITAR NYO and Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) organized a two-day Seminar on International Treaty Law and Practice, with emphasis on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its protocols.

Mr. Stephen Mathias, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs at the United Nations, opened the Seminar highlighting the overall importance of the United Nations in assisting states on matters of International Law.  As Chief of the Office of Legal Affairs Treaty Section, Mr. Santiago Villalpando demonstrated the extent to which the Treaty Section offers technical assistance to states in preparing final clauses and ensuring states’ multilateral agreements can enter into force.  The Treaty Section’s depository role is of key importance as a state cannot invoke a treaty before any organ of the United Nations unless it has been registered in accordance with Article 102 of the United Nations Charter.  Also, Mr. Villalpando shed light on the specificities of declarations and reservations. Ms. Dina Hamdy, Legal Officer at the Treaty Section, allowed the delegates to engage with material on multilateral treaty making and the extent to which instruments are legally binding on states.  Carlos Ivan Fuentes, Associate Legal Officer from the Treaty Section, gave a presentation on the scope of states’ obligations to register treaties.

On the Rights of the Child Executive Director of the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, Ms. Zama Coursen-Neff spoke of real-life instances where the Convention could be crucial in remedying unjust treatment of children and protecting their human rights.  Mr. Alec Wargo, Program Officer of the Office of the Special Representative for Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, discussed the use of the Convention and the Optional Protocol in ensuring states’ accountability in respect to the age of military recruitment. This presentation informed delegates of the use of treaties and protocols in international diplomacy in both responding to and raising awareness of global moral issues.  Closing the discussion, Ms. Cecilia Anicama, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children, discussed the role of the Optional Protocol in enabling children to seek protection under International Human Rights Law and access compensation where such help is not offered at the national level. 

Ms. Arancha Hinojal-Oyarbide, Legal Officer for the Treaty Section, joined the panel for day two of the Seminar to explain final clauses necessary for an instrument to have legal effect and the importance of including a provision in the treaty concerning potential amendments.   Mr. Andrew Kolomoets, Information Management Officer of the Treaty Section and his Associate Legal Officer Fanny Schaus concluded the Seminar with an incredibly clear overview of the online resources available to the delegates, with great attention to the United Nations Treaty Collection website.  The Seminar successfully informed delegates of the importance of states ratifying and implementing International Treaties, particularly where their universal effect is crucial in responding to a global issue, as is the case with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.