Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child obliges States parties to “undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention”. Independent National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI’s) are an important mechanism to promote and ensure the implementation of the Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC). The Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) considers the establishment of such bodies to fall within the commitment made by States parties upon ratification to ensure the implementation of the Convention and advance the universal realization of children’s rights.
In its General Comment No. 21, the Committee describes the role and characteristics of independent human rights institutions for children. The Committee encourages States parties to establish specialist independent human rights institutions with the aim to promote and protect rights of the children.
Realizing its commitment under CRC, the State of Pakistan has established a National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC) through the Act XXXII of 2017. The preamble of the Act says; “WHEREAS it is expedient to set up a National Commission on the rights of the child in accordance with international obligations and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereof.”
The National Commission on the Rights of Child Act, 2017 stipulates a broad and overarching mandate for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of child rights as enshrined in Constitution of Pakistan and international treaties particularly CRC. As a State watchdog, the NCRC works independent of the Government and is accountable to the Parliament of Pakistan. The primary functions and powers of the NCRC include, among others, to conduct inquiries into allegations of child rights abuse(s); review existing and proposed legislation from child rights perspective; carry out research and advise on policy matters pertaining to the situation of child rights in Pakistan; contribute awareness-raising and advocacy initiatives and suggest measures to follow up on the implementation of concluding observation of the Committee. The Commission became operational in February 2020, with the appointment of the Chairperson and its Members.
The Commission requires the services of a qualified technical consultant as the Head of programme.
The Head of Programme is responsible to perform following tasks;
1. To assist the NCRC in fulfilling its statutory mandate in Pakistan as per Act 2017;
2. Steer policy research and legislative reforms in all the provinces as per mandate and road map of NCRC and agreed work plans with donors/technical agencies;
3. Promote NCRC’s effort to develop strong coordination and engagement with federal and provincial government agencies, and civil society organizations;
4. Undertake official liaison and correspondence with NCRC stakeholders and governments departments with the consent of the Chairpersons/Secretariat;
5. Complaint handling and redress of cases of child abuse as per mandate of the Commission through an effective referral mechanism/ concerned Government Authorities;
6. Steer violence against children surveys and researches in Pakistan;
7. Capacity building of NHRIs for accountability of child rights;
8. Awareness raising as per the mandate of NCRC. Coordinate with partners and donors for joint programming;
9. Develop monthly, quarterly and annual progress reports for NCRC with agreed time lines and quality parameters;
10. Monitor the compliance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other instruments signed/ratified by Pakistan and develop reports for onward submission;
11. Coordinate with the Finance Department to ensure appropriate project budgeting and efficient use of financial resources in conducting activities; and
12. Oversee the rollout of NCRC Strategic Plan, NCRC Policy Briefs and UNICEF KAP Surveys, and liaison with UNICEF and NCRC for effective coordination and dissemination of Policy Briefs and KAP Survey findings to key stakeholders.
13. Enhance NCRC’s engagement with NCRC’s partners/technical agencies/donors and act as focal point in line with policies, practices and notifications of the Commission, and report (progress, meeting minutes) to donor/technical partners as per agreement.
The Federal Government has constituted the National Commission on the Rights of Child in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3(1) of the National Commission on the Rights of Child Act, 2017 (XXII 2017). The Commission has been notified.