United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
with Full Text attached
The preamble: recalls the basic principles of the United Nations and
specific provisions to certain relevant human rights treaties and proclamations;
reaffirms the fact that children, because of their vulnerability, need special
care and protection; and places special emphasis on the primary caring and
protective responsibility of the family, the need for legal and other protection
of the child before and after birth, the importance of respect for the cultural
values of the child’s community, and the vital role of international cooperation
in achieving the realization of children’s rights.
All persons under 18, unless by law majority is attained at an earlier age.
The principle that all rights apply to all children without exception, and
the State’s obligation to protect children from any form of discrimination. The
State must not violate any right, and must take positive action to promote them
3. Best interests of the child
All actions concerning the child should take full account of his or her best
interests. The state is to provide adequate care when parents or others
responsible fail to do so.
The State’s obligation to translate the rights in the Convention into
5. Parental guidance and the child’s
The State’s duty to respect the rights and responsibilities of parents and
the wider family to provide guidance appropriate to the child’s evolving
The inherent right to life, and the State’s obligation to ensure the child’s
survival and development.
The right to have a name from birth and to be granted a nationality.
The State’s obligation to protect and, if necessary, re-establish the basic
aspects of a child’s identity (name, nationality and family ties).
The child’s right to live with his/her parents unless this is deemed
incompatible with his/her best interests; the right to maintain contact with
both parents if separated from one or both; the duties of States in cases where
such separation results from State action.
The right of children and their parents to leave any country and to enter
their own in order to be reunited or to maintain the child-parent relationship.
11. Illicit transfer and non-return
The State’s obligation to try to prevent and remedy the kidnapping or
retention of children abroad by a parent or third party.
The child’s right to express an opinion, and to have that opinion taken into
account, in any matter or procedure affecting the child.
The child’s right to obtain and make known information, and to express his
or her views, unless this would violate the rights of others.
14. Freedom of thought, conscience
The child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, subject to
appropriate parental guidance and national law.
The right of children to meet with others and to join or set up
associations, unless the fact of doing so violates the rights of others.
The right to protection from interference with privacy, family, home and
correspondence, and from libel/slander.
17. Access to appropriate information
The role of the media in disseminating information to children that is
consistent with moral well-being and knowledge and understanding among peoples,
and respects the child’s cultural background. The State is to take measures to
encourage this and to protect children from harmful materials.
The principle that both parents have joint primary responsibility for
bringing up their children, and that the State should support them in this task.
19. Protection from abuse and neglect
The State’s obligation to protect children from all forms of maltreatment
perpetrated by parents or others responsible for their care, and to undertake
preventive and treatment programmes in this regard.
20. Protection of children without
The State’s obligation to provide special protection for children deprived
of their family environment and to ensure that appropriate alternative family
care or institutional placement is made available to them, taking into account
the child’s cultural background.
In countries where adoption is recognized and/or allowed, it shall only be
carried out in the best interests of the child, with all necessary safeguards
for a given child and authorization by the competent authorities.
22. Refugee children
Special protection to be granted to children who are refugees or seeking
refugee status, and the State’s obligation to cooperate with competent
organizations providing such protection and assistance.
The right of handicapped children to special care, education and training
designed to help them to achieve greatest possible self-reliance and to lead a
full and active life in society.
24. Health and health services
The right to the highest level of health possible and to access to health
and medical services, with special emphasis on primary and preventive health
care, public health education and the diminution of infant mortality. The
State’s obligation to work towards the abolition of harmful traditional
practices. Emphasis is laid on the need for international cooperation to ensure
25. Periodic review of placement
The right of children placed by the State for reasons of care, protection or
treatment to have all aspects of that placement evaluated regularly.
26. Social security
The right of children to benefit from social security.
The right of children to benefit from an adequate standard of living, the
primary responsibility of parents to provide this, and the State’s duty to
ensure that this responsibility is first fulfillable and then fulfilled, where
necessary through the recovery of maintenance.
The child’s right to education, and the State’s duty to ensure that primary
education at least is made free and compulsory. Administration of school
discipline is to reflect the child’s human dignity. Emphasis is laid on the need
for international cooperation to ensure this right.
The State’s recognition that education should be directed at developing the
child’s personality and talents, preparing the child for active life as an
adult, fostering respect for basic human rights and developing respect for the
child’s own cultural and national values and those of others.
The right of children of minority communities and indigenous peoples to
enjoy their own culture and to practice their own religion and language.
31. Leisure, recreation and cultural
The right of children to leisure, play and participation in cultural and
32. Child labour
The State’s obligation to protect children from engaging in work that
constitutes a threat to their health, education or development, to set minimum
ages for employment, and to regulate conditions of employment.
33. Drug abuse
The child’s right to protection from the use of narcotic and psychotropic
drugs and from being involved in their production of distribution.
The child’s right to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse,
including prostitution and involvement in pornography.
35. Sale, trafficking and abduction
The State’s obligation to make every effort to prevent the sale, trafficking
and abduction of children.
36. Other forms of exploitation
The child’s right to protection from all other forms of exploitation not
covered in articles 32, 33, 34 and 35.
37. Torture and deprivation of
The prohibition of torture, cruel treatment or punishment, capital
punishment, life imprisonment, and unlawful arrest or deprivation of liberty.
The principles of appropriate treatment, separation from detained adults,
contact with family and access to legal and other assistance.
38. Armed conflicts
The obligation of States to respect and ensure respect for humanitarian law
as it applies to children. The principle that no child under 15 takes a direct
part in hostilities or be recruited into the armed forces, and that all children
affected by armed conflict benefit from protection and care.
The State’s obligation to ensure that child victims of armed conflicts,
torture, neglect, maltreatment or exploitation receive appropriate treatment for
their recovery and social reintegration.
40. Administration of juvenile
The right of children alleged or recognized as having committed an offence
to respect for their human rights and, in particular, to benefit from all
aspects of the due process of law, including legal or other assistance in
preparing and presenting their defence. The principle that recourse to judicial
proceedings and institutional placements should be avoided wherever possible and
41. Respect for existing standards
The principle that, if any standards set in national law or other applicable
international instruments are higher than those of this Convention, it is the
higher standard that applies.
Implementation and entry into force
The provisions of articles 42-54 notably foresee:
1) the State’s obligation to make the rights contained in
this Convention widely known to both adults and children.
2) the setting up of a Committee on the Rights of the
child composed of ten experts, which will consider reports that States Parties
to the Convention are to submit two years after ratification and every live
years thereafter. The Convention enters into force and the Committee
would therefore be set up once 20 countries have ratified it.
3) States Parties are to make their reports widely available to
the general public.
4) The Committee may propose that special studies be undertaken
on specific issues relating to the rights of the child, and may make its
evaluations known to each State Party concerned as well as to the UN General
5) In order to “foster the effect implementation of the
Convention and to encourage international cooperation”, the specialized
agencies of the UN (such as the ILO, WHO and UNESCO) and UNICEF would be able to
attend the meetings of the Committee. Together with any other body recognized as
“competent”, including NGOs in consultative status with the UN and UN
organs such as the UNHCR, they can submit pertinent information to the
Committee and be asked to advise on the optimal implementation of the
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