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Children'S Rights

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the clearest and most comprehensive expression of what the world community wants for its children. It arose in the 1970s as a reaction to the weakening global humanitarian response to children. The United Nations unanimously endorsed the convention on November 20, 1989 and it became international law in 1990.

The UNCRC is an international human rights treaty, which focuses on the rights of the child from a developmental-ecological perspective. It assumes that the child's overall development is a function of a number of factors (psychological, social, educational, and cultural) and contexts (home, school, community, and country). The convention's developmental framework represents the latest thinking in international child-related policies.

The UNCRC is comprised of fifty-four articles that seek to safeguard and uphold children's minimal health, civil, humanitarian, and family rights. It can be divided into three main parts: key principles, specific rights, and ways in which the convention should be monitored. Protection of children against discrimination, abuse and neglect, and armed conflict are issues outlined in Articles 2, 19, and 38, respectively. Parent-child relationships are defined in several articles, including Articles 5, 9, and 10. The treaty also calls on states and countries to ensure survival of children to the maximum extent (health care, food, and clean water in Article 24; education in Articles, 28 and 29).

The UNCRC uses the principle of "a child's best interest" as a standard measuring tool for policy, thereby defining children not as objects, but as individuals with human rights. Consequently, the UNCRC is an important advocacy tool for children worldwide.



Detrick, S.A Commentary on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1999.

Muscroft, S., ed. Children';s Rights: Reality or Rhetoric? London: International Save the Children Alliance, 1999.

Rebello, Pia, L. Cummings, and M. Gardinier. "The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Call to Child Development Professionals around the World." Paper presented at the Biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Indianapolis, IN, April 1995.

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child [web site]. Available from http://www.unicef.org/crc; INTERNET.

Pia Rebello Britto

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 2