OBJECTIVES By the end of the session, participants will be able to:
Describe the basics of international law and define key
international legal terms
Name the primary human rights instruments and the main
protections they provide, particularly for children
Explain the application of human rights law in complex
Formulate advocacy strategies on protection using international
TIME 2 hours 30 minutes
KEY MESSAGES Familiarity with international human rights standards will allow for
more focused and effective advocacy at all levels on
CRC & OPs = key tools for protection of children‟s rights
Certain rights are non-derogable, even during a state of
All UNICEF programmes are guided by human rights
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 1
SESSION PLAN Activities Methodology Duration
Introduction 2 minutes
Activity 1: Match the Terminology Exercise in 30 minutes
Activity 2: Overview of International Interactive 30 minutes
Human Rights Law Presentation
Activity 3: Knowing the Optional True and False 30 minutes
Protocols to the CRC Exercise
Activity 4: Human Rights Instruments Interactive 15 minutes
& their Limitations Presentation
Activity 5: Delivering the Message on Case Study 40 minutes
Review of Key Messages for Session 3 minutes
Total time 2 hours 30
ADVANCE Action Done
Familiarise yourself with the key international human
NOTES rights instruments (UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, CRC &
Update 2.3: „Table of International and Regional Human
Rights Instruments‟ to be relevant for your region.
Review the PowerPoint presentation for Session 2
Read the William O‟Neill paper: “A Humanitarian
Practitioner‟s Guide to International Human Rights Law”
(see Trainer Resources)
Prepare two flipcharts with numbers 1-7 down the left
side of one; numbers 8-14 on the other flipchart
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 2
Option: If time, put the 14 terms listed in the activity,
each term on its own sheet of paper or large VIPP card.
Use a bold type or writing style so that the entire page is
filled with just the one term. Post the term on the VIPP
board as you discuss its meaning with participants. If
possible, leave up for the duration of the training. Use a
wall space as an option if a VIPP board is not available.
MATERIALS Item Ready
PowerPoint Overhead Projector and Screen
PowerPoint slides: Session 2
Flip charts (one per small group and one for facilitator),
2.1 Match the Terminology
2.2 Cape Town Principles
2.3 Table of International and Regional Human Rights
2.4 Delivering the Message on Child Soldiers
2.5 Derogations During States of Emergency
2.6 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in
2.7 Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution and Child Pornography
2.8 Match the Terminology Answer Key
Guide to the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict (UNICEF and Coalition to
Stop the Use of Child Soldiers), December 2003. (If
copies are available, distribute to participants.)
William G. O‟Neill, “A Humanitarian Practitioner‟s Guide
to International Human Rights Law”. Thomas J. Watson
Jr. Institute for International Studies. Occasional Paper
No. 34, 1999. Available at:
ml (downloadable in PDF)
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 3
KEY TO ICONS These icons will help guide you through the session.
Tips for the Trainer
See Trainer Resources Materials
Refer to Participant Manual
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 4
Time: 2 minutes
Slide 2: Presentation of Session Objectives
This session provides participants with an overview of the basics of
international law and international human rights law. It focuses on
the application of human rights in emergencies and means to
advocate for their protection.
Today there is a plethora of international human rights instruments
yet violations of human rights continue to be widespread across the
world. Participants may ask questions that relate to this gap between
the theory and practice of human rights, and it is important for you to
consider how you will respond. There are many political, social,
economic and cultural factors that will continue to give rise to human
rights violations yet the international community continues to work
hard to prevent and reduce these.
For example, you may wish to mention that although human rights
abuses continue to occur at an alarming rate today, there is greater
awareness of them, greater willingness to acknowledge them and
this in turn can lead to action to address them more quickly.
The UN Programme for Reform launched in 1997 called on the
entire UN system to enhance its human rights programmes. As a
result, there are a number of new enforcement mechanisms, such
as the Special Courts, the International Criminal Court, Truth
Commissions, new UN Peacekeeping Missions and humanitarian
interventions etc. Efforts are being made to strengthen existing UN
human rights mechanisms such as the treaty monitoring bodies and
the special thematic and country rapporteurs. There is also better
monitoring of human right violations from international NGOs such
as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as
internal pressure placed on a government from within the country
from national human rights NGOs and civil society. Advocacy efforts
from the media and donors can also contribute to the prevention and
reduction of human rights violations.
Clearly there is a long way to go to ensuring respect for human
rights although much is being done to work towards achieving that
greater goal. However, we must also be realistic at some of the
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 5
limitations of international action, especially considering that the
decision-making bodies for compliance and enforcement measures
within the UN are comprised of states, who may be responsible for
the human rights violations occurring in their country. Respect for
human rights will ultimately depend on the political and moral will of
each state and, therefore, our efforts to ensure universal respect for
human rights must also focus on national action.
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 6
ACTIVITY 1: MATCH THE TERMINOLOGY EXERCISE
Time: 30 minutes Trainer Guidance
This activity is intended to familiarise participants with the basic
terminology of International Law and some of the UN protection
mechanisms. The intent is NOT to discuss the legal aspects of a
particular human rights instrument at this time. If participants are still
unclear about the meaning of the terms, use the CRC as a practical
illustration to explain their application.
Working in Pairs
Refer participants to 2.1 Match the Terminology exercise in their
manuals. In pairs, request participants to correctly match the term to
Debriefing the Exercise
1. Once the groups have completed the assessment, start with the
first definition (#1) and ask the group for the correct response.
Do this in order (#2 to #12) until all the terms have been correctly
matched. Write each term on the flipchart in order. Clarify any
confusion as needed. See 2.8 Answer Key in Trainer
2. Refer participants to the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
Glossary (1.6) in their manuals for a more expansive look at legal
and conflict-related terminology.
(This exercise may also be used as a refresher or energiser later in
Request participants to stand up and stand on one side of the
Either individually OR in the same pairs (depending upon how
many participants are in the programme), participants are to
answer as you point, in no particular order, to one of the terms
on the flipchart or VIPP board and give you a brief concise
definition, without reading from their sheet.
As soon as the individual or pair give you the response, tell them
to move to the other side of the room
No one participant or pair may respond twice.
Quickly review all the terms in this manner.
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 7
Stress that knowing how the terminology is applied, and the key
mechanisms that are used, is critical in order to be able to discuss
international legal standards, whether with a government official or
with a colleague. Not knowing the correct terminology usage is
grating on the ears of those who do know, and likely to diminish your
credibility if in a serious rights based discussion!
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 8
ACTIVITY 2: OVERVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
Time: 30 minutes Trainer Guidance
This activity is an interactive presentation that is intended to provide
an overview of international human rights law (IHRL) and the two
Optional Protocols (OP) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC) by using questions and statements to stimulate discussion on
some of their features.
However, a brief look at international law is first necessary for
participants to understand how IHRL law is situated, as well as other
branches of international law (e.g. refugee law, criminal law,
humanitarian law etc) that will be covered in the programme. Much
of this session will be a refresher for UNICEF staff who are familiar
with the basics of IHRL, but perhaps not so familiar with the
provisions of the OP‟s and the application of IHRL in emergency
Request participants not to refer to their manual until the end of this
Slide 3: What is International Law?
International law is a body of law that:
1. regulates the legal relationships between states or between
states and individuals;
2. grants specific rights to individuals; and
3. imposes duties and obligations on States, individuals and
Slide 4: What are the Primary Sources of International
There are two primary sources of international law:
2. Customary International Law
Treaties are legally binding instruments by which governments can
be held accountable. International treaties have different
designations such as covenants, charters, protocols, conventions,
accords and agreements. A state can become a party to a treaty by
ratification, accession or succession.
Customary international law are norms that have developed from
a general and consistent practice of States, followed by them out of
a sense of legal obligation rather than a formal expression in a treaty
or legal text. For example, while the Universal Declaration of
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 9
Human Rights is not in itself a binding treaty, some of its provisions
have the character of customary international law (e.g. all forms of
slavery, extra-judicial killing, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention,
International law can regulate all types of dealings between states:
trade, environmental issues, human rights, armed conflict/war and
so on. This training programme focuses on the branches of
international law that principally afford protection to the rights of the
individual, particularly in conflict situations.
Slide 5: What is International Human Rights Law?
IHRL is a series of international human rights treaties and other
instruments that have emerged since 1945 conferring legal form on
inherent human rights. IHRL consists mainly of treaties and
customs, as well as declarations, guidelines and principles (the latter
are non-binding unless passed by the Security Council).
Slide 6: Why is it Important to Know about International
Human Rights Law?
Before showing slide 6, ask participants how they view
international human rights law as relating to their work.
Responses may include the following:
UNICEF is bound by the UN Charter which declares as a primary
purpose of the United Nations in its preamble "promoting and
encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental
freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or
The Secretary General‟s UN reform process obliges all UN
agencies to mainstream human rights in their work;
UNICEF‟s Mission Statement cites the CRC, which is an
international human rights treaty and provides a legal foundation
for the ethical and moral principles that guide our work for
Many other international human rights treaties are relevant to
UNICEF‟s work, including CEDAW and the two optional
protocols to the CRC;
UNICEF adopts a human rights-based approach to
programming, in other words human rights provide the
conceptual and operational framework for the development of a
UNICEF Country Programme of Cooperation;
Treaties to which a State is legally bound determine the
framework for our country programmes, including our advocacy
efforts (this refers to both treaties and customary law)
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 10
Slide 7: What are the Four Guiding Human Rights
Briefly review the four human rights principles:
Indivisibility and interdependence of rights
The principle of universality is the foundation of all human rights
treaties. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and
rights." The related principle of non-discrimination (on the basis of
race, colour, gender, language, opinion, origin, disability, birth or any
other characteristic) is expressed in Article 2 of the CRC. Issues of
exclusion, inequality and injustice are therefore central concerns in
the dialogue with national partners, and in the development of
programmes of cooperation.
Another important principle is the indivisibility and
interdependence of rights. The fulfillment of one right cannot be
achieved by compromising or violating another right. In many
situations one right can only be adequately fulfilled if progress is
being made in ensuring another right. For example, a child‟s right to
basic education can only be realised if his or her survival is not
constantly threatened. All rights have equal status, and there are no
rights that are more important than others.
Accountability is a human rights principle with strong programme
implications. States acknowledge and accept obligations when they
ratify human rights treaties. In doing so they agree to implement
these treaties and to be accountable for respecting, protecting and
fulfilling the rights of the people within their jurisdiction. States
Parties must demonstrate efforts to implement the provisions of the
treaties they ratify. Ratification requires States to align their domestic
laws with treaty provisions and to ensure that steps are taken to
make government at national and sub-national levels respond in
ways consistent with the letter and intent of the law.
The principle of participation is an important consideration in
programming. Human rights law firmly establishes that every person
and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy
economic, cultural and social development, through which all human
rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised. The
participation of children and young people is not only desirable for
increased ownership and sustainability of programme outcomes, but
has consequences for the design and implementation of
programmes and development activities.
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 11
Slide 8: Classification of Human Rights
Briefly review the classification of rights into three groups: (1) civil
and political; (2) economic, social and cultural; and (3) collective.
Before showing slide 8, ask participants what the first development
was in the international human rights arena.
The adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Prior to these important
instruments were minority treaties adhered to on bilateral or
multilateral bases, the Charter of the International Military
Tribunal in Nuremberg, as well as international humanitarian law.
Explain that the UDHR was not intended to contribute to legal
developments but was adopted by the UN General Assembly as
a "common standard of achievement". Nevertheless, it was a
giant step forward in terms of bringing human rights onto the
international arena. The UDHR was then codified with the
adoption of two Covenants in 1966: the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
which are legally binding.
The ICCPR deals exclusively with civil and political rights, such
as freedom of movement and expression, religion and
conscience. The ICESCR deals exclusively with economic,
social and cultural rights that should be progressively achieved
by the contracting states, such as the right to work, social
security, adequate food, clothing and housing.
Collective rights could include the right to development, the right
to humanitarian assistance, the right to a healthy environment,
the right to peace. Article 1 of both the ICCPR and the ICESCR
recognises the right of peoples to self-determination.
Slide 9: International Bill of Rights
Before showing slide 9, ask participants what the International Bill
of Human Rights is.
The International Bill of Human Rights is the centerpiece of the
international human rights framework. It is not a single legal
document; rather, it comprises the three instruments mentioned
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 12
Slide 10: Other Major International Human Rights
Before showing slide 10, ask participants to identify some of the
other major human rights instruments.
The following human rights instruments are important because they
have a monitoring body in the form of a Committee:
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination (CERD), 1965
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW), 1979
Convention against Torture (CAT), 1984
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989
It is also important to remember the 1951 Convention relating to the
Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, for which the "monitoring
body" is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR). In addition, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
were adopted in 1998, which provide an important standard for the
protection of internally displaced persons despite the fact that they
are not legally binding. These will covered in more depth in a
Refer participants to the Table of International and Regional Human
Rights Instruments (2.3) in their participant’s manual to see which
instruments apply in their countries.
Slide 11: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
The CRC is the most widely ratified treaty in international human
Ask participants which two States have signed—but not ratified the
CRC? (US and Somalia)
The CRC includes civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights
and applies to all children in all situations at all times. Article 38 is
especially important for emergencies as it calls upon States to
respect the rules of international humanitarian law, and ensure
protection and care for children affected by armed conflict. The
CRC is the only example of a human rights instrument directly
incorporating obligations found in the laws of armed conflict. It also
makes connections to refugee law. Considering all these elements,
the CRC constitutes a powerful advocacy tool for the humanitarian
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 13
Slide 12: What are the Four Foundation Principles for the
Before showing slide12, ask participants to name the four
foundation principles of the CRC.
The CRC embodies four general principles for guiding
implementation of the rights of the child:
Non-discrimination ensuring equality of opportunity;
When the authorities of a State take decisions which affect
children, a primary consideration must be to the best interests
of the child;
The right to life, survival and development which includes
physical, mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural
Children should be free to express their opinions, and such views
should be given due weight taking the age and maturity of the
child into consideration (respect for the views of the child).
Slide 13: Optional Protocols to the CRC
Before showing slide 13, ask participants whether they can name
the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the
Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and
Child Pornography. Entered into force on 18 January 2002.
Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed
Conflict. Entered into force on 12 February 2002.
The two OPs were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 May
NB: If time permits, the trainer should also make brief
references to the importance of national and regional human
rights law which also play a key role in ensuring the protection
of children and women.
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 14
ACTIVITY 3: KNOWING THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOLS TO THE
Time: 30 minutes Trainer Guidance
This activity is aimed at ensuring participants are familiar with the
key provisions and protections afforded by the two Optional
Protocols to the CRC. Watch the time on this activity as discussions
are often lively and the exercise needs to be well paced.
Ask participants to react to the following 6-8 statements
regarding the two Optional Protocols to the CRC by indicating
„true‟, „false‟ or „maybe‟. You may not have time to cover them
all, but make sure that you at least cover some statements from
both Optional Protocols.
Designate one area of the room for those who say „true‟, another
area for those who say „false‟ and a third area in the middle for
those who say „maybe‟.
After you read a statement (show it at the same time on the
PowerPoint slides, 2.14-2.21), ask participants to physically
move to the part of the room corresponding to their reaction to
the statement. Lead a discussion on why people reacted the
way they did, and use the trainer‟s notes below to supplement
the correct response.
Firstly, regarding the Optional Protocol on the
Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict:
1. Governments are prohibited from conscripting or compulsorily
recruiting any persons under the age of 18 into their armed
True: OP prohibits compulsory recruitment of children. (CRC
prohibits recruitment for persons under 15)
2. Governments are prohibited from voluntarily recruiting persons
under the age of 18 into their armed forces.
False: OP permits voluntary recruitment of 16 & 17 year olds.
Governments must raise their minimum age for voluntary
recruitment beyond the current age of 15, and must deposit a
binding declaration stating the minimum age they will respect.
Governments recruiting under-18s must maintain a series of
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 15
safeguards, ensuring that such recruitment is genuinely
voluntary; is done with the informed consent of the person's
parents or legal guardians; that recruits are fully informed of the
duties involved in military service; and that proof of age is
established. (CRC prohibits for under 15)
3. Government armed forces are not permitted to engage members
of their armed forces that are under the age of 18 in direct
True: Governments must take all feasible measures to ensure
that members of their armed forces that are under the age of 18
do not take a direct part in hostilities. Note that while children
have a right to hold a political opinion, the expression of this right
through active participation in hostilities is superceded by their
right to protection.
4. Non-governmental armed groups are permitted to voluntarily
False. Rebel or other non-governmental armed groups are
prohibited from recruiting under-18s or using them in hostilities.
Governments are required to criminalize such practices and take
other measures to prevent the recruitment and use of children by
Secondly, regarding the Optional Protocol on the Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography:
5. The OP recognises and addresses the link between the sexual
exploitation of children and armed conflict.
False: Although the commercial sexual exploitation of children
and women is a well-recognised consequence of armed conflict,
the OP failed to recognise and address these links. There is a
growing trend to make the links between armed conflict and an
increase in the trafficking and sexual exploitation of girls and
women. In post conflict situations, where a demand is often
created, the links are even more apparent.
6. If the age of a child is uncertain, a criminal investigation cannot
False: The OP states that uncertainty as to the actual age of the
victim shall not prevent the initiation of criminal investigations,
including investigations aimed at establishing the age of the
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 16
7. The OP contains a provision for the decriminalization of child
victims. For example child prostitutes are given immunity from
False: This is a controversial issue: proponents for non-
criminalization argue that children engaged in prostitution should
be treated as child abuse victims; others argue that de-
criminalizing prostitution will encourage more exploitation of
minors and that older children, over the legal ages of consent
and criminal responsibility, should have the same liability as
adults. UNICEF believes that children in prostitution are victims
and should never be treated as criminals.
8. The OP strongly discourages the practice of international
False: However, the OP does prohibit improperly inducing
parental consent to a child‟s adoption. It requires States to
ensure compliance with international adoption instruments and
ensure that any aspect of adoption undertaken for profit is
Summary of the key provisions of the OP on the Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
The OP gives special emphasis to the criminalization of serious
violations of children's rights – namely, the sale of children, illegal
adoption, child prostitution and pornography.
It prohibits the sale of children for purposes of sexual
exploitation, transfer of organs for profit, child labour, AND for
improperly inducing consent for child adoption.
It prohibits offering, obtaining, procuring or providing a child for
It prohibits distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting,
offering, selling or possessing for purposes of child pornography.
The text stresses the value of international cooperation as a
means of combating these transnational activities, and of public
awareness, information and education campaigns to enhance
the protection of children from these serious violations of their
If there is time available, you may wish to continue the discussion
with the following questions. Participants may remain in their seats
for this component.
Ask participants whether they view the OP on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict as having any weaknesses, and if so,
The primary weakness of the OP was its failure to establish
eighteen as the minimum age for voluntary recruitment. Although
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 17
recognizing that children under age eighteen are entitled to
special protections, the text allows states to recruit volunteers as
young as sixteen. Based on research in conflict areas, UNICEF
has concluded that the most effective way of preventing the use
of children in armed conflicts is to ensure that they are not
Ask participants to share their views on the different standards set in
the OP for national armed forces and non-state entities or armed
groups on the voluntary recruitment and use of children under the
age of eighteen in armed conflict.
There are no right answers to this question, as it is a matter of
Some thoughts are that the 18-year minimum offers greater
protection to younger children currently recruited by armed
groups, particularly in areas where birth or age documentation is
not readily available, and younger children are frequently
deemed eligible for military service based on appearance alone.
However, for the same reasons, those protections should be
granted for children who so-called “voluntarily” enlist in national
armed forces. A “straight 18” rule would have granted much
greater protection for children.
The double-standard undermines the likelihood that armed
groups will comply with the OP when they know the government
is using “voluntarily recruited” children in direct hostilities.
The difference in standards arose largely because of the need of
some Western countries, particularly the United States, to
preserve their voluntary enlistment programs for sixteen and
seventeen year olds.
Slide 22: Legal age of recruitment into the armed forces
and participation in hostilities under international law
As we have seen, there are various legal instruments which apply to
child soldiers. Show the summary of these instruments and
CRC - prohibits recruitment and use for under 15 years
OP to the CRC - prohibits compulsory recruitment for under 18
years. Voluntary recruitment is permitted for 16 & 17 (with
safeguards) but no direct participation in hostilities for under 18
Non-governmental armed groups cannot recruit or use for under
18s (neither voluntary nor compulsory)
ICC - recruitment of under 15 years is considered a war crime
API - recruitment and direct participation in hostilities prohibited
for under 15 years
APII - recruitment and participation for under 15 years prohibited
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 18
UNICEF should always lobby for the highest possible standard to
apply to children, i.e. the Optional Protocol.
Refer participants to 2.6 and 2.7 in their manuals. (OP on the
Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and OP on the Sale of
Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography)
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 19
ACTIVITY 4: HUMAN RIGHTS INSTRUMENTS AND THEIR
Time: 15 minutes This activity is an interactive presentation intended to use questions
to provoke discussion on the potential limitations of the international
human rights instruments.
Slide 23: Derogations during States of Emergency
Before showing slide 23, ask participants if international human
rights law applies in times of armed conflict?
Under international law, the enjoyment of certain rights can be
restricted in specific circumstances. In a legitimate and declared
state of emergency, States can take measures which limit or
suspend (or “derogate” from) the enjoyment of certain rights.
Such derogations are permitted only to the extent necessary for the
situation and may never involve discrimination based on race,
colour, sex, language, religion or social origin. Any derogation must
be reported to the UN Secretary General. Economic, social and
cultural rights may not be derogated from during states of
emergency, only civil and political rights are subject to such
Ask participants for examples of when derogations may have
occurred within their home countries or countries of employment to
provoke concrete discussion.
Examples may include prohibitions against public protests or
assembly, restriction of voting rights and rights to associate etc.
Slide 24: Limitations on Derogations to Civil & Political
Before showing slide 24, ask participants whether there are any
limitations on these derogations.
Yes, derogations from civil and political rights are subject to the
following limitations, which are set out in ICCPR, Art. 4:
the derogation must be temporary;
an exceptional threat to the life of the nation must exist;
an official proclamation of a state of emergency must be made;
a notification to other states and/or the relevant treaty-monitoring
body of the measures taken must be made;
a reasonable proportionality between the means employed and
the end to be realized must exist;
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 20
other obligations under international law remain applicable;
measures taken to derogate must not be discriminatory.
Note that in times of emergency, the protection of human rights
becomes all the more important, particularly those rights from
which no derogation can be made.
Slide 25: Non-derogable Rights
Before showing slide 25, ask participants whether they can identify
any rights that are non-derogable.
Certain human rights – non-derogable rights – may never be
suspended or restricted even in situations of war and armed conflict
as determined by Article 4 of the ICCPR. These rights are
applicable no matter what the circumstances:
right to life;
prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
freedom from slavery;
freedom from post facto legislation and other judicial guarantees
(i.e. freedom from threat of criminal prosecution for acts
committed prior to their criminalization)
right to recognition before the law;
freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Ask participants whether they see any potential problems with
allowing States to derogate from certain rights during a state of
Some states have abused the derogation power, a weakness in the
ICCPR not present in the law of armed conflict, where no
suspensions are ever allowed. The fact that a state has made an
official proclamation of a state of emergency does not always mean
that the international community also treats the situation as an
emergency. Some states use the possibility to derogate as an
excuse not to be criticized on the international level for not being
able to live up to their obligations under the ICCPR.
Refer participants to 2.5 in their manuals (Derogations during States
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 21
ACTIVITY 5: DELIVERING THE MESSAGE ON CHILD
Time: 40 minutes
This activity is intended to focus on the application of relevant legal
standards for child protection, and to help participants understand
how to view and formulate advocacy messages in this area.
Refer participants to handout 2.4 Delivering the Message on
Child Soldiers in their manuals, and in small groups, have them
read the case study and answer the questions which follow.
Participants will have 20 minutes to do this.
Divide participants into four groups.
Request participants to identify a spokesperson to report back to
When groups have read the case study, they should answer the
following questions in their groups:
1. What arguments and legal standards could UNICEF use to
advocate with the Government of Country A not to use child
2. What advocacy messages on child soldiers could UNICEF use:
a) when meeting with the UFF; and b) in the media?
3. Other than advocacy, what role could UNICEF play in this
context? What role could other partners play?
4. How could UNICEF and partners promote enforcement of the
existing standards to protect children from being used as child
Request each group to report back on only one question, e.g. group
1 reports back on question 1, group 2 on question 2, etc.
1. Arguments and legal standards UNICEF could use:
The key human rights principles in the CRC at stake are “the
best interests of the child” and a child‟s “right to life, survival, and
development”. Using children as soldiers is clearly not in the
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 22
best interests of the child, and puts the child's life, survival and
development in jeopardy.
Country A has signed but not ratified the CRC-OP-CAC. It is
therefore not legally bound by the treaty, but it is required to act
in accordance with the spirit of the treaty since it has already
signed it (indicating an intention to ratify, and be legally bound
The government of Country A therefore should take immediate
steps to comply with the OP.
If the government is found to be using child soldiers below the
age of 15 [NB. This is not clear from the information given but
could be reasonably extrapolated], the government would be in
violation of both the CRC and the Geneva Conventions.
2. Note that advocacy messages may be hard to come up with as
they are often dependent upon the context, the country, what the
government/armed groups may be willing to hear, how they hear
the message, the cultural context, what they assess as what is in
„it‟ for them etc. Below are some possible advocacy messages
for use with the UFF and media in this context.
Even though the UFF cannot sign and ratify international treaties
such as the CRC, it can agree to adhere to them, as a sign of
good faith, commitment to children, and belief in international
Using children under 15 as soldiers is illegal under international
and domestic law. It constitutes a war crime, and UFF leaders
can be held responsible in domestic courts and the International
If the government of Country A ratifies the OP, it will become
illegal under domestic law for the UFF to use children under 18
as soldiers. This higher standard may make it even more likely
the government will pursue UFF leadership for this gross
violation of children's rights.
The UFF is not making any friends by using children as soldiers.
They are not gaining the support of the general population by
doing so, and they are in fact potentially eroding any support
they do have. Using child soldiers is not a good strategy.
If the UFF releases the children within their ranks, UNICEF and
other child protection agencies will be ready to assist released
children, demobilize them, and reunite them with their families.
War is not child's play. Using children as soldiers is never
It is illegal to use children as soldiers.
Those who use children as soldiers will be prosecuted for their
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 23
Messages to the communities/parents: do not allow your boys
and girls to "volunteer" for membership in armed forces or groups
until they become adults at the age of 18.
Messages to children/adolescents: do not join armed groups or
forces in order to participate in a "cause" you may believe in.
There are other, more constructive ways to contribute to the
future of your community and your country.
3. Other activities UNICEF and child protection partners could
undertake include: working for the release of child soldiers;
putting in place Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration
(DDR) programmes for released children; conducting research to
determine with greater accuracy numbers of children in the
armed forces and UFF, their roles/functions, etc.; working with
communities to accept demobilized children back; working to
create alternatives to recruitment for children, such as education,
training, and ways that children can contribute to community
development and peace building; etc.
Slide 26: Enforcement Mechanisms
4. Show slide on enforcement mechanisms for this question.
These are just some of the ways that enforcement of
international child protection standards can be promoted. Some,
such as sanctions, are not possible/feasible for UNICEF country
offices to implement, whereas others, such as monitoring and
reporting or naming and shaming, may be more appropriate for
UNICEF and other child protection agencies.
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 24
KEY MESSAGES FOR SESSION 2
Time: 3 minutes
Slide 27: Review of Key Messages
Familiarity with international human rights standards will allow
for a more focused and effective advocacy at all levels on
CRC + OPs = key tools for protection of children‟s rights
Certain rights are non-derogable, even during a state of
All UNICEF programmes are guided by human rights
SESSION 2 – INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW 25