Posted by under Human Rights Education on 3 October 2006

A summary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child -in child friendly language.


A summary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Whose responsibility?

Children's rights are a special case because many of the rights laid down in the Convention on the Rights of the Child have to be provided by adults or the state. However, the Convention also refers to the responsibilities of children, in particular to respect the rights of others, especially their parents (Article 29).

Here are some suggestions of the responsibilities that could accompany rights…

If every child, regardless of their sex, ethnic origin, social status, language, age, nationality or religion has these rights, then they also have a responsibility to respect each other in a humane way. If children have a right to be protected from conflict, cruelty, exploitation and neglect, then they also have a responsibility not to bully or harm each other. If children have a right to a clean environment, then they also have a responsibility to do what they can to look after their environment.

If children have a right to be educated, then they have the obligation to learn as much as their capabilities allow and, where possible, share their knowledge and experience with others. If all children have a right to a full life, then they should also lend help so the needy, the disadvantaged, and the victims of discrimination also enjoy this right. If children have a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, then they also have the obligation to respect other's thoughts or religious principles.

You can probably think of many more. Derived from a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities, by an organisation called World Goodwill, composed of ex-heads of state.

The articles

1. Everyone under 18 years of age has all the rights in this Convention.

2. The Convention applies to everyone whatever their race, religion, abilities, whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from.

3. All organisations concerned with children should work towards what is best for each child.

4. Governments should make these rights available to children.

5. Governments should respect the rights and responsibilities of families to direct and guide their children so that, as they grow, they learn to use their rights properly.

6. All children have the right to life. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.

7. All children have the right to a legally registered name, and nationality. Also the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for, by their parents.

8. Governments should respect children's right to a name, a nationality and family ties.

9. Children should not be separated from their parents unless it is for their own good. For example, if a parent is mistreating or neglecting a child. Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child.

10. Families who live in different countries should be allowed to move between those countries so that parents and children can stay in contact, or get back together as a family.

11. Governments should take steps to stop children being taken out of their own country illegally.

12. Children have the right to say what they think should happen, when adults are making decisions that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account.

13. Children have the right to get and to share information, as long as the information is not damaging to them or to others.

14. Children have the right to think and believe what they want, and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should guide their children on these matters.

15. Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organisations, as long as this does not stop other people from enjoying their rights.

16. Children have a right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their families and their homes.

17. Children have the right to reliable information from the mass media. Television, radio, and newspapers should provide information that children can understand, and should not promote materials that could harm children.

18. Both parents share responsibility for bringing up their children, and should always consider what is best for each child. Governments should help parents by providing services to support them, especially if both parents work.

19. Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for, and protect them from violence, abuse and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them.

20. Children who cannot be looked after by their own family must be looked after properly, by people who respect their religion, culture and language.

21. When children are adopted the first concern must be what is best for them. The same rules should apply whether the children are adopted in the country where they were born, or if they are taken to live in another country.

22. Children who come into a country as refugees should have the same rights as children born in that country.

23. Children who have any kind of disability should have special care and support, so that they can lead full and independent lives.

24. Children have the right to good quality health care, to clean water, nutritious food, and a clean environment, so that they will stay healthy. Rich countries should help poorer countries achieve this.

25. Children who are looked after by their local authority, rather than by their parents, should have their situation reviewed regularly.

26. The Government should provide extra money for the children of families in need.

27. Children have a right to a standard of living that is good enough to meet their physical and mental needs. The Government should help families who cannot afford to provide this.

28 Children have a right to an education. Discipline in schools should respect children's human dignity. Primary education should be free. Wealthy countries should help poorer countries achieve this.

29 . Education should develop each child's personality and talents to the full. It should encourage children to respect their parents, and their own and other cultures.

30. Children have a right to learn and use the language and customs of their families, whether these are shared by the majority of people in the country or not.

31. All children have a right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of activities.

32. The Government should protect children from work that is dangerous, or that might harm their health or their education.

33. The Government should provide ways of protecting children from dangerous drugs.

34. The Government should protect children from sexual abuse.

35. The Government should make sure that children are not abducted or sold.

36. Children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development.

37. Children who break the law should not be treated cruelly. They should not be put in prison with adults and should be able to keep in contact with their families.

38. Governments should not allow children under 15 to join the army. Children in war zones should receive special protection.

39. Children who have been neglected or abused should receive special help to restore their self-respect.

40. Children who are accused of breaking the law should receive legal help. Prison sentences for children should only be used for the most serious offences.

41. If the laws of a particular country protect children better than the articles of the Convention, then those laws should stay.

42. The Government should make the Conventionknown to all parents and children.

The Convention on the rights of the child has 54 articles in all. Articles 43-54 are about how adults and governments should work together to make sure all children get all their rights.

A convention is an agreement between countries to obey the same law. When the government of a country ratifies a convention, that means it agrees to obey the law written down in that convention.

The Government of Singapore ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1995. That means our government now has to make sure that every child has all the rights in the Convention.

Sources and Relevant Links:


UNHCHR Convention on the Rights of the Child [1989]

UNHCHR Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict 25 May 2000

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Convention against Discrimination in Education 23 February 2002

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 06 June 2001

UNGA Universal Children's Day Message by H.E. Jan Kavan, President of the Fifty-seventh Session of the United Nations General Assembly 20 November 2002

Singapore MOE CHILDREN'S DAY 1998 29 September 98

Think Centre International Children's Day Message 2006: Do Not Neglect the children! 02 October 2006

Think Centre Children Day Message 2005: Children in a land of opportunities 30 September 2005

UNHCHR Rights of the Child: Valuing Children, Respecting Children 24 September 2005

Think Centre Celebrating International Children's Day: Let our Children enjoy their Childhood 01 October 2004

Think Centre Do We Respect Our Children's Rights? 29 September 2003

Think Centre Children's Rights: Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities? 26 September 2003

SingaporeMedia Student Stress & Suicides 17 September 2003

Think Centre Discrimination in Education 23 February 2002

UNCEF Convention on the Rights of the Child

UNESCO What is Human Rights Education? 18 September 2005

Cyberschoolbus: UN Human Rights Education for children

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