Defence for Children International
United Nations Convention on the Rights of
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
Convention on the Rights of the Child