Protecting children's rights

Defending children's rights
Protecting young people
Defending rights of children
Recognizing right of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection
Children are amongst the most vulnerable of all groups. Throughout the world their rights are often undermined or threatened by child-traffickers, child prostitution and sexual abuse, armed forces enlistment, child labour and murder squads targeting street children. Organizations and agreements are facilitating the protection of children's rights.

The 10th annual report on The State of the World's Children ([Childhood Under Threat], UNICEF, 2005) reported that more than 1 billion children are denied the healthy and protected upbringing promised by 1989's [Convention on the Rights of the Child] - the world's most widely adopted human rights treaty. The report stresses that the failure by governments to live up to the Convention's standards causes permanent damage to children and in turn blocks progress toward human rights and economic advancement. The report examines three of the most widespread and devastating factors threatening childhood today: HIV/AIDS, conflict, and poverty. It lists seven deadly deprivations: (1) 640 million children do not have adequate shelter; (2) 500 million children have no access to sanitation; (3) 400 million children do not have access to safe water; (4) 300 million children lack access to information (TV, radio or newspapers); (5) 270 million children have no access to healthcare services; (6) 140 million children, the majority of them girls, have never been to school; (7) 90 million children are severely food deprived.

Even more disturbing is the fact that at least 700 million children suffer from at least two or more of the deprivations.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

In 1990, the [UN Convention on the Rights of the Child] came into force. As of 1994, 154 States have ratified the convention, and have agreed to participate in the monitoring mechanism set up by the UN (Committee on the Rights of the Child), which in 1993 proceeded to examine the national reports of 12 countries. This landmark human rights legislation has been ratified by more countries and in shorter time than any other human rights treaty, and is likely to become the first universally ratified human rights convention in history. Nations that have ratified the Convention agree to submit a report detailing the steps taken to implement it, and these reports are therefore an early indication of how seriously the Convention is being taken. By March 1994, 111 nations were due to have reported and 35 (less than a third) had done so. 45 nations have been more than a year late in submitting reports. UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is developing a child rights information network via computers as a means of exchanging experiences and information on the Convention and child rights. Out of respect for the convention, and following negotiations with UNICEF, the authorities of Sierra Leone decided in 1993 to demobilize all the children enlisted in the regular army (about 1,000). In 1993, in order to stem the trafficking of children for adoption, the Conference on Private International Law adopted a convention on international adoption which entered into force the same year and has so far been signed by eight countries.

Ninety-three countries have finalized National Programmes for Action (NPAs) for achieving the goals of the 1990 World Summit for Children. The goals, to be achieved by 2000, mirror provisions in the [Convention on the Rights of the Child] and include 90% immunization coverage, halving child malnutrition, primary education for 80%, and safe water for all.

Article 17 of the [European Social Charter] (Revised) (Strasbourg 1996) provides: With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right of children and young persons to grow up in an environment which encourages the full development of their personality and of their physical and mental capacities, the Parties undertake, either directly or in co-operation with public and private organisations, to take all appropriate and necessary measures designed: 1)a) to ensure that children and young persons, taking account of the rights and duties of their parents, have the care, the assistance, the education and the training they need, in particular by providing for the establishment or maintenance of institutions and services sufficient and adequate for this purpose; b) to protect children and young persons against negligence, violence or exploitation; c) to provide protection and special aid from the state for children and young persons temporarily or definitively deprived of their family's support; and 2) to provide to children and young persons a free primary and secondary education as well as to encourage regular attendance at schools.

Defence for Children International promotes and protects children's rights, and has branches in 50 countries worldwide.

Type Classification:
C: Cross-sectoral strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions