Rights of the Child

“A century that began with children having virtually no rights is ending with children having the most powerful legal instrument that not only recognizes but protects their human rights.”
-Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF 1995-2005 commenting on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

It’s time to celebrate!  For the first time in history, our generation is recognized as having universal human rights. These rights are enshrined in specific instruments that give us extra protection, and acknowledge that we, young people, have the ability to assert these rights.

Adopted by the League of Nations in 1924, The Declaration on the Rights of the Child was the first commitment to the rights of children. But by 1989, world leaders decided that it was time that a special human rights convention geared towards meeting the needs of the world’s children be created–one that would set the highest standards of protection unique to any other international instrument.

Enter the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20th 1989, the CRC is the most widely ratified human rights agreement with 192 signatories! It is legally binding and represents the first international instrument to include a wide range of human rights–from civil and economic to social and cultural. It is also the only international human rights treaty that gives non-governmental organizations, a role in keeping tabs on its implementation. Somalia and the United States of America are the only two countries that have signed, but not ratified (legalized) the Convention.

The CRC has made great strides for the rights of all children by creating a fresh understanding of children as the holders of rights and responsibilities according to their age, not just the passive recipients of charity. The Convention sets out these rights and responsibilities and how they should be applied within its 54 articles and two Optional Protocols on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography; and Children in Armed Conflict.

Do you know your rights? Check out the CRC in youth-friendly lingo!

Child Rights Information Network; ECPAT International; UNICEF; Human Rights Learning Centre