UN General Comment No. 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has issued a new General Comment on Adolescents which includes very progressive and strong language on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and rights of adolescents. Among many other advancements, the new General Comment:

> Recognizes that states should remove parental authorization requirements for SRH info and services (para. 60)

>Urges states to consider introducing a presumption of capacity for adolescents seeking preventative and time-sensitive SRH commodities and services (para. 39)

> Urges states to decriminalize abortion to ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services, review legislation with a view to guaranteeing the best interests of pregnant adolescents and ensure that pregnant adolescents’ views are always heard and respected in abortion-related decisions (para. 60)

> Recognizes that the voluntary and informed consent of the adolescent should be obtained whether or not the consent of a parent or guardian is required for any medical treatment or procedure (para. 39)

> Calls on states to take into account the need to balance protection and evolving capacities in defining the legal age for sexual consent and avoid criminalizing adolescents of similar ages for factually consensual and non-exploitative sexual activity (para. 40)

> Calls for age-appropriate, comprehensive and inclusive sexual and reproductive health education, based on scientific evidence and human rights standards and developed with adolescents to be  part of the mandatory school curriculum and reach out-of-school adolescents (para. 61)

FULL TEXT (English) ; FULL TEXT (Russian) ; Summary from Astra Bulletin No.2, 2017 ; PHOTO