Conventional Wisdom Series Part 3: Convention on the Rights of the Child

In this third installment of the series to feature major conventions that have significantly advanced the cause of universal human rights, we bring to your attention the Convention for the Rights of the Child (CRC).

…Taking due account of the importance of the traditions and cultural values of each people for the protection and harmonious development of the child, Recognizing the importance of international co-operation for improving the living conditions of children in every country, in particular in the developing countries…”

Adopted in 1989, the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, CROC or UNCRC) marks a cornerstone in the history of human rights advancement as the international community came to recognize for the first time the natural rights of children as a particularly vulnerable group that deserve not only basic human rights but also special care and protection that adults do not need.

In contrast to the traditional view that children were “little adults” or even properties of their parents, children, defined as those under the age of 18, are entitled to the full range of human rights, including cultural, economic, political and social rights. The Convention establishes that all children are equal, enjoy the same rights and must be free from all forms of discrimination, regardless of their race, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability.

With its 54 articles, the CRC further establishes a child’s rights from birth (the right to registration, name and nationality), right to development (right to primary education, rights to play and leisure, right to social security and health services), rights to all kinds of children (rights of refugee, ethnic minority, adopted and disabled children), rights to protection from all forms of violence and abuse, and much more. The CRC fully recognizes the importance of the roles of parents in a child’s fullest development, and sets out core principles such as devotion to the best interest of the child and respect for the view of the child. Additionally, two Optional Protocols adopted in 2000 further outline a child’s rights to freedom from armed conflicts and a child’s rights to freedom from child prostitution, child pornography and child trafficking.

The CRC was the first legally binding international human rights treaty to highlight the special issues and concern of children, and to unequivocally advocate for the equality of all children and their full entitlement to basic human rights. Since 1989, 194 country states have signed and ratified the treaty, with the notable exception of Somalia and the United States of America.

As an NGO that advocates on behalf of the rights of all vulnerable children, including migrant, refugee and ethnic minority children, DEPDC/GMS celebrates the achievement of the CRC in promoting child rights and urges the international community to continue our work of building a world where all children can grow up with the joy, freedom and safety to reach their fullest potential.

To learn more about the CRC, visit CRC at UNICEF for a start!

Click on the poster to enlarge it.

Click here for a UNICEF photo essay celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2009. For additional photo essays by UNICEF about child protection, please click here.

To read the other parts of our Conventional Wisdom Series, please click here.


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