DCI – Child Rights 6

Defence for Children International

United Nations Convention on the Rights of

the Child


Preservation of the identity (art. 8)

This is a totally new obligation. Here the Convention underscores the

child’s right to name and nationality by the careful protection of the child’s

identity. The Working Group included this provision at the suggestion of

Argentina in the light of that country’s experience, during the Seventies, of

mass “disappearances” of children whose identity papers had been

deliberately falsified and family ties arbitrary severed.

The child’s opinion (art. 12)

The right of the child not only to express an opinion but also to have

the opinion taken into account in matters that affect him or her is a highly

significant recognition of the need to give children a greater say in their own


Child abuse and neglect (art. 19)

The feature of special interest in this article is the emphasis placed

on the prevention of intra-familial abuse and neglect, which has never

previously figured in a binding instrument.

Adoption (art. 21)

This article is of special importance because of the emphasis it places

on the need for strong safeguards surrounding the adoption process —

especially as regards inter country adoption — and the fact that it brings

into this instrument principles that were adopted only three years previously by

th United Nations in the framework of a non- binding declaration.

Health (art. 24)

In addition to its explicit references to primary health care and to

education regarding the advantages of breast-feeding as means of promotion

access to the highest attainable standard of health, this article stands out

because it mentions — for the first time in a binding international

instrument — a State obligation to work towards the abolition of

traditional practices, such as female circumcision and preferential treatment of

male children, that have harmful consequences for children’s health.

Periodic review of placement (art. 26)

The obligation to review periodically all institutional placements

designed to ensure th care, protection or treatment of children, in order to

determine whether or not they are still appropriate, responds to a

recently-voiced concern and, again, has never previously figured in human rights


Education (art. 28)

The novelty here is that, whilst corporal punishment is not explicitly

outlawed, there is reference to the fact school discipline must be administered

“in a manner consistent with child’s human dignity”.

Drug abuse (art. 33)

This is the first time that explicit mention is made of the need for

protection of children from drug abuse and from being used in the production and

distribution process of illicit substances.

Deprivation of liberty (art. 37)

The aspect of special note in this article is the inclusion of the

principle that deprivation of liberty must be looked upon as a last resort and,

if it is the nonetheless ordered, must be limited to possible period of time.

Rehabilitative care (art). 39

An important addition to the body of children’s rights is this article

which places an obligation on States to promote adequate treatment for children

harmed physically or psychologically as a result of violations of their right to

protection, in particular, from exploitation and cruelty.

Administration of juvenile justice (art. 40)

Many of the essential principles of the 1985 UN Standard Minimum Rules

of Administration of juvenile justice — a non-binding instrument —

have been incorporated into this article, the longest and the most detailed of

the whole Convention, with the result that international norms in this sphere

have been significantly upgraded.

Making Convention known (art. 42)

Strictly speaking, this article comes under the implementation

provisions of the Convention. It is well worth highlighting here, however,

because it is the first time that specific and explicit recognition has been

given to the need for children themselves to receive information on their

rights. This is a further indication of the gradually changing attitude towards

children that, overall, this Convention both reflects and helps to fosters.

This is not an exhaustive list of the improvements that the Convention

brings to children’s rights. Many others improvements — including those

dealing with minority children or indigenous children, the special needs of

handicapped children, protection from all forms of exploitation, freedom of

expression and association, to name but a few — could also validly be


Summary of the United Nations

Convention on the Rights of the Child