Rights of the child

The United Nations recognizes that children have rights as human beings and need special care and protection for their survival and development.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

These principles are laid down in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was passed unanimously in November 1989 and entered into force in September 1990. It stands out among all human rights covenants as the one having obtained the highest number of ratifications. At present, all members of the United Nations have ratified the Convention - with the exception of the United States and Somalia. They have signed the Convention, but not yet ratified it. The main body for enforcing the convention is the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which monitors the implementation of the Convention by its State Parties.

Optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Two additional Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child were adopted by the General Assembly in 2000. They entered into force two years later and are intended to prevent involvement of children in armed conflict and the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. 2011 another optional protocol on children and communications procedure was adopted:

  1. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
  2. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
  3. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure.

Special rapporteurs on the children's protection

In 1990, the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography - Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children - by resolution 1990/68, with the mandate of to investigate the exploitation of children around the world and to submit reports to the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights, making recommendations for the protection of the rights of the children concerned. Today the special rapporteur is subjected to the Human Rights Council.

In 1997 United Nations Secretary-General appointed the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to monitor the situation of children in armed conflicts.

The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict reviews the situation of children in armed conflict and makes recommendations to parties to conflict to take measures to promote the protection of war-effected children.

See also the DagDok on Children in armed conflicts.

UNICEF and special sessions on children

UNICEF works to assist governments in promoting children's rights. In 1990, the World Summit for Children took place under the auspices of UNICEF. The World Summit adopted the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and a Plan of Action for implementing the Declaration in the 1990s.

In 2002 the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children took place. It was the first of its kind devoted exclusively to children and with children as official delegates. At this special session the nations of the world committed themselves to a series of goals to improve the situation of children and young people.

ILO and child labour

Child labour is a violation of fundamental human rights and has been shown to hinder children's development, potentially leading to lifelong physical or psychological damage. The ILO is engaged in setting international standards to fight the worst forms of child labour.

More on UN and Rights of the child

  • Convention on the Rights of the Child In Swedish - In English
  • Documents of the Committee on the Rights of the Child carry the following symbols: 

CRC/-

Committee on the Rights of the Child

Ex. CRC/C/65/Add.21

Committee on the Rights of the Child. Country report no 65. Addendum 21

Human Rights, conventions and declaration

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.