States committed to law reform
What does it mean to be committed to law reform?
This means that a state has clearly and publicly committed to enacting legislation to explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children, however light, in all settings including the home, without delay. A commitment to achieving prohibition in a specific setting, for example in schools, is certainly welcome, but it is not enough to meet states’ human rights obligations and to guarantee children the protection from violence they deserve.
How we do assess commitment?
A state’s commitment is assessed on an individualised basis, taking into account the wider national context. Some of the criteria taken into consideration are:
- Introducing and/or actively supporting a Bill to prohibit all corporal punishment of children;
- Expressing clear support for recommendations to prohibit all corporal punishment made during the state’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR);
- Making a public expression of commitment on a global, regional or national stage, including becoming a Pathfinding state with the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children;
- Expressing or confirming commitment to prohibition in a communication to the Global Initiative, etc.
Actions speak louder than words! A state’s committed status may be revoked due to inaction over time or if a state backtracks on its commitment, including by:
- Claiming law reform is not necessary despite a lack of prohibition in legislation,
- Defending the use of so-called ‘reasonable’ punishment,
- Opposing or not facilitating the passage of a Bill to prohibit all corporal punishment,
- “Noting” or rejecting UPR recommendations to prohibit,
- Not reporting on progress towards prohibition on relevant platforms, etc.
Commitment must be a pathway to law reform and not just an empty gesture. Children deserve to be protected from all forms of violence as a matter of urgency!
Some states listed above have made no progress in realising their commitment to law reform or have even backtracked on it. We are currently reviewing our list of committed states and will be publishing the outcomes of our review in the new year.
We are calling on governments that have not yet achieved prohibition to publicly commit to reforming their laws, without delay, but we also need your help! We welcome input from national human rights institutions, civil society organisations and concerned individuals on states’ commitment to law reform.