DCI -Child Rights 7

Defence for Children International

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.


1. Definition of a child

All persons under 18, unless by law majority is attained at an earlier age.

2. Non-discrimination

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.

4. Implementation of rights

The State’s obligation to translate the rights in the Convention into


5. Parental guidance and the child’s

evolving capacities

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


6. Survival and development

The inherent right to life, and the State’s obligation to ensure the child’s

survival and development.

7. Name and nationality

The right to have a name from birth and to be granted a nationality.

8. Preservation of identity

The State’s obligation to protect and, if necessary, re-establish the basic

aspects of a child’s identity (name, nationality and family ties).

9. Separation from parents

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.

10. Family reunification

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.

12. The child’s opinion

The child’s right to express an opinion, and to have that opinion taken into

account, in any matter or procedure affecting the child.

13. Freedom of expression

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

and religion

The child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, subject to

appropriate parental guidance and national law.

15. Freedom of association

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.

16. Protection of privacy

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.

18. Parental responsibilities

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.

21. Adoption

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.

23. Handicapped children

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

this right.

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.

27. Standard of living

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.

28. Education

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.

29. Aims of education

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.

30. Children of minorities or

indigenous peoples

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

artistic activities.

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.

34. Sexual exploitation

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.

39. Rehabilitative 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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