Everyone has human rights. As independent human beings, children have human rights. UNCRC is an international Human Rights agreement based on the three core principles of human rights Dignity, Equality and Respect. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child often abbreviated as the CRC or UNCRC is a human rights treaty dedicated to children and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1989. It is an approach based on child ‘rights’ grounded in obligations and accountability, working with children, not just for them,
UNCRC is making it clear that, with respect to international human rights law, children are active subjects. They not only require certain forms of protection in addition to the entitlements of human rights law, they also require special forms of protection, because they are in a vulnerable position, both legally and developmentally. These entitlements include the right to have their opinion taken into consideration, when adults take decisions on their behalf, to express their views and to join or form associations that represent their own interests. UNCRC is most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. Every country in the world except one has ratified UNCRC.
*Ratify: sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a legally-binding international agreement, setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of their wealth, gender, ethnicity, religion, location, ability or any other factor. The UNCRC describes the obligation state parties have to all children living within its border. The convention is wide reaching and covers many aspects of children’s lives.States have the responsibility to create the legislation and policy framework, and provide resources, so that UNCRC can be realized.
The four general principles are:
The best interest of the child
The right to life, survival and development
Respect for the views of the child
Rights are described as articles and there are 54 articles in the Convention. There are 4 articles that apply across all other rights in the Convention. The principle of non-discrimination means that anyone making decisions or taking actions about children must be fair for all children, with equal opportunities given to all children. The best interest of the child means that all adults should do what is best for children in all their decisions and actions which could affect children. The right to life, survival and development means that no one can take a child’s life away and must do their best so that children can develop to their full potential. Respect for the views of the child, means that people taking decisions about children should discuss them with children to get their opinion.
Rights are indivisible, interdependent and inalienable
The rights in CRC are indivisible and interdependent. Fulfilling one right helps to fulfill other rights, failure to provide for one right can affect the enjoyment of other rights. Rights are inalienable that means they can’t be revoked, transferred or denied. They can’t be used as rewards or punishments.
Individuals and groups who benefit from human rights treaties are called rights holders.
Children under 18 years are Right Holders.
Parents are also Right Holders. They are entitled to assistance from the State in raising their children and they are entitled to provide their child with advice and guidance.
Duty bearers are those defined as having obligations under the CRC for respect, protection and fulfillment of children’s rights. The State and everybody that works or acts on the behalf of the State such as teachers, police, social workers, judges, lawyers, health care workers etc. are duty bearers and are responsible for realizing the rights of all children. It means that duty bearers must consider and apply the provision of the Convention in all aspects of their work that defect children, respect, protect and fulfill all the obligations that they have signed up for. For example if there is a culture of bullying in a school, the school has to take appropriate action so all children can feel safe and learn.
The Monitoring Body of the UNCRC is the Committee on the Rights of the Child and was established by the UNCRC. The Committee is an independent body of 18 experts elected by the State Parties. State Parties must submit a progress report every five years and their assessments are supplemented with information from other organizations like NGOs and Children’s Commissioners and children can also submit evidence to the committee. The Committee enters into “constructive dialogue” with states, and the output from the whole process is a report called the Concluding Observations and it summarizes the Committees view on the status of UNCRC in the country. The report also contains recommended measures to be taken by the state and also includes implementation and improvement recommendations to each individual country, which will be reviewed next time the state is examined. The Committee has no way of enforcing its views, but the open reporting process makes states publicly and internationally accountable.
The purpose of a general comment is to widen and deepen understanding of a particular aspect of the Convention and to reflect the changing conditions under which children grow up. The General Comment is an official document, that clarifies for the governments worldwide the meaning and importance of an article of the UNCRC. It clearly defines the responsibilities of governments, that have signed the Convention. The General Comment will provide guidance to the States Parties and raise awareness.
Like many other human rights treaties, UNCRC is followed by Optional Protocols. These are additional parts to a treaty that can:
further address something in the original treaty, or
address something the original treaty doesn’t mention, such as an issue that didn’t exist when it was first adopted.
Optional Protocols give more detail about the area they discuss and expand a state’s obligations beyond those given in the original treaty. A state that signs up to the UNCRC isn’t required to sign up to its Optional Protocols
Two optional protocols were adopted on 25 May 2000. The first Optional Protocol restricts the involvement of children in military conflicts and the Second Optional Protocol prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Both protocols have been ratified by more than 160 states. The third Optional Protocol relating to communication of complaints was adopted in December 2011 and opened for signature on 28 February 2012. It came into effect on 14 April 2014.
Responsibilities and a Rights- Based- Approach
To safeguard children’s rights it requires that we have a rights–based approach, it means that we must take account of children’s rights standards and principles in all our work. A rights–based approach consists in a set of values and standards and a comprehensive and inclusive manner that apply to all children and their best interest, and the development of their capacities.
As early years practitioners, health workers, teachers, social workers and parents you can ask yourself the following questions or discuss them together with your colleagues.
Is every child in this setting seen as equal? Do we treat all children equally and according to their needs whatever their race, colour, religion, sex or nationality?
Does every child have what he or she needs in order to promote their healthy mental, emotional and physical development?
Is every child respected here? Do I say and spell their name correctly? Do I make efforts to know and understand their background and nationality?
Do all children have sufficient nutritious food?
Are all children living in a home that is safe and secure and promotes their wellbeing?
Do all children have the medical treatment and care they need?
Are children’s diverse learning and development needs provided for?
Are all children loved, understood and cared for in ways which meet their needs?
Do all children have access to the play, learning, and recreation time and space they need?
Are all children given protection from cruelty, neglect and exploitation?
There has always been a long standing focus on protecting vulnerable children from suffering as a charitable response, with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children no longer have to rely on charity or kindness to meet their needs. Full implementation of the UNCRC is important, it ensures that all children have access to their basic human rights and helps to create a better future for children.
By ensuring that children’s rights are respected, we can create a world where every child can reach their full potential. This will lead to a brighter future for all of us.
You can download UNCRC text easy read and UNCRC full text,The little rabbit! A story book for small children affiliated to UNCRC, the rabbit pictures affiliated to the book, ”We have something to say!” a storybook for elderly children about their rights as Pdfs for free on playtime Seychelles blog
Let the children do a Rights Mobile about their rights. You can down load the materials as Pdfs for free.
You can download a guidance with suggestions on how you can work with the rabbit story, the mobile and discussion question for both small and elderly children. as Pdf for free on Playtime Seychelles blog.