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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.
But the idea that children should have rights goes much further back than 1989. Already in the beginning of 20th century some activist started to promote the idea that children should have rights.
In the aftermath of 1 World War, Eglantyne Jebb the founder of Save the Children wrote the draft of the declaration on the Rights of the Child and together with others she campaigned for the first International declaration on the Rights of the Child adopted by the League of Nations in 1924, the United Nation adopted an expanded version of the declaration 1959. During the International Year of the child 1979 Poland proposed that it should be a convention for children.
During the next 10 years countries around the world debated and negotiated the text to what should become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.
UNCRC is an international Human Rights agreement based on the three core principles of human rights Dignity, Equality and Respect. UNCRC sets a global rights agenda for every person under the age 18 years old.
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 race, religion or abilities.
Nations that ratifies UNCRC are bound to it by international law; ratifying states must act in the best interest of the child.
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.
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 other rights can be categorized into 5 categories
Children under 18 years of age are Rights holders.
Duty bearers are those defined as having obligations under the CRC for respect, protection and fulfillment of children’s rights. Government and everybody that works or act on the behalf of the Government such as teachers, police , social workers, judges health care workers etc. are the duty bearers and are responsible for realizing the rights of all children.
That 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 on a school the school have 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 year and their assessments are supplemented with information from other organizations like NGOs and children’s Commissioner 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 summaries 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 recommendation 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.
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.
A 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.
There has always been a long standing focus on protecting vulnerable children from suffering as a charitable response, with 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 UNCRC insures children the entitlement to that Equality, Dignity and Respect is upheld.
To be continued.