|© UNICEF/INDA2011-00186/Niklas Halle'n|
|India: Girls perform a tribal dance in the Ichori village in the state of Maharashtra.|
UNICEF's Mandate on Adolescence
UNICEF’s mandate to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) necessitates that all children under 18 are included in its programming. UNICEF’s organizational priorities identify adolescent development as a cross-cutting issue, impacting critical areas of UNICEF’s work.
Adolescents play a central role in contributing to young child survival programmes, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, helping to create a protective environment against violence, exploitation and abuse, and macro policy development to increase social investment in issues that affect children and adolescents.
While the term ‘adolescents’ is not mentioned in international conventions, declarations or treaties, all adolescents have rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) cover children up to the age of 18, and adolescent girls are further protected under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, and regional instruments such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.
UNICEF has endorsed the CRC as its mandate and therefore adolescent programming is a direct reflection of its service population. Guided by the CRC along with CEDAW and CPRD UNICEF is mandated to invest in adolescents as rights-bearers. The treaties go beyond protecting the welfare of young people; they recognize them as rights holders, extending an ethical basis for their active participation in all aspects of their lives.
It is important to note, in addition to the UN definitions mentioned above, each national government has its own definition and age-threshold for defining children, adolescents.
General Comment No.4 - Adolescent health and development in the context of the CRC - 2003