The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most well-known and accepted international standard on children’s rights worldwide. It all started from the declaration on the ‘Rights of the Child’ written by ‘Save the Children Fund’ founder Eglantyne Jebb in 1924. It advocates that all people owe children the right to enjoy economic freedom and receive an upbringing that helps instill social consciousness and duty.
However, it wasn’t until 1959 that the United Nations adopts the ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child,’ recognizing among other rights, the right to receive the appropriate education from elementary school to university, along with the rest: the right to play, grow up in a supportive environment, and receive quality health care.
Decades later, the Convention on the Rights of the Child became the widely acclaimed landmark achievement for human rights, guaranteeing and setting minimum standards for protecting children’s rights in all capacities.
To help you understand more about the act—here are its principles and why it’s essential for children globally.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Principles
The Convention on the Rights of the Child follows four general principles underpinning all children’s rights. These include:
- Non-Discrimination — This means that all children have the same rights as adults to develop into their maximum potential in any situation and time. For instance, all kids should have equal access to education regardless of their ethnicity, age, gender, religion, etc.
- Survival and Development — This is the children’s right to ensure they have access to essential services to reach their full development, regardless of their race and country of origin. For example, children with disabilities should have the same educational opportunities and access to achieve their maximum potential.
- The Best Interests of the Child — This principle suggests that all actions or decisions involving children need to be the ‘primary consideration’ of everyone and must resolve the conflict between various rights. For instance, when officials make national budgetary decisions affecting children, they need to consider how it can affect children’s best interests.
- The Views of Children — This means that every child’s voice must be heard and respected in matters concerning their rights. For instance, government officials should consult with children before establishing any changes that can affect them.
Why Children’s Rights Is Important
There are several reasons why the United Nations and other organizations decided to single out children’s rights in an individual’s human rights Convention, including but not limited to:
Children Are individuals
Children aren’t their parent’s nor state’s possessions and aren’t merely ‘people in the making.’ They have equal status as functioning members of the human family.
Changes in Society Provide A Negative Impact on Children
The constant changes in family structures, climate change, mass migrations, globalization, and other issues in many countries have significant impacts on children. The effect of these on kids can be devastating—especially in potentially fatal emergencies.
The Healthy Development of Children Is Vital to the Future of All Societies
Since children are still developing, they become more vulnerable to less-than-ideal living conditions, including poverty, poor health care, insufficient nutrition, dirty water, and pollution. The effects of these, ranging from diseases to extreme poverty, threaten children’s future, which in turn, their societies.
Remember that children have the same privilege and human rights as adults alongside special rights that address their needs. The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out their rights as human beings with their rights, where adults need to recognize for children to reach their full potential.