Children in Nepal, Image credit to author

When we become parents, we make a promise to our children that we will do everything in our power to protect them and to help them learn, grow and thrive.  But did you know that the world has made a similar promise to all children to protect and promote their rights to reach their full potential?

On November 20, 1989 the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been acceded to or ratified by 196 countries –  more countries than any other international treaty.

The Convention sets out the basic human rights that every child should have to develop to their fullest human potential, regardless of  where they live in the world. The four core principles of the Convention are non-discrimination; promoting the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child.  The Convention also protects children’s rights by setting standards that governments should provide in the areas of health care, education, and legal, civil and social services.

As UNICEF notes,

 The articles of the Convention, in addition to laying the foundational principles from which all rights must be achieved, call for the provision of specific resources, skills and contributions necessary to ensure the survival and development of children to their maximum capability. The articles also require the creation of means to protect children from neglect, exploitation and abuse.

Interested in learning more?  Below are a few of the rights guaranteed by the Convention along with photos of children that I have taken around the world.

Article 1: “A child means every human being below the age of 18 years.”

A child in Zanzibar, Image credit to author

Article 2:  Children must be treated “ … without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of … race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.” 

A child in Cameroon, Image credit to author

Article 3: “In all actions concerning children … the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
Articles 5 & 18: State signatories must “… respect the … rights and duties of parents … [and recognize that] both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing … of the child.”

A family in Morocco, Image credit to author

Articles 12-14: “… the child who is capable of forming his or her own views [has] the right to express those views [and] the right to freedom of … thought, conscience and religion.”
Article 19: Children must be protected from “… injury or abuse … including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents … or any other person….”
Article 22: “… a child who is seeking refugee status or who is … a refugee … [shall] receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance ….”
Article 23: The State recognizes “… the right of the disabled child to special care” and the right to “… enjoy a full and decent life in conditions which ensure dignity ….”
Article 24: All children have the right to “the highest attainable standard of health … [including access to] primary health care … nutritious foods and clean drinking-water.” 

Children in Norway, Image credit to author

Article 27:  Every child has “the right to a standard of living adequate for [her/his] physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.”

A child in the Iceland, Image credit to author

Articles 28 & 29:  State signatories must “recognize the right of a child to education…[that develops] the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities.” 

Photo Credit to the Author

Articles 32 & 36:   Children must be “protected from economic exploitation … and from [hazardous] work [and] all other forms of exploitation. 

These are just some of the rights set forth in the Convention.  You can read the full text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child here.  

For ideas about activities that you can do with your kids to teach them about rights and responsibilities, check out our past Human Rights Day posts:

10 Things to Do With Your Kids on Human Rights Day (2011)

Human Rights Activities To Do With Your Kids (2013)

Human Rights Activities To Do With Your Kids (2014).

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Jennifer Prestholdt.

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

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