Convention on the Rights of the Child

Rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

© UNICEF/HQ03-0535/Pirozzi
A man embraces his young grandson in Togo, a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child was the first instrument to incorporate the complete range of international human rights— including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights as well as aspects of humanitarian law.

The articles of the Convention may be grouped into four categories of rights and a set of guiding principles. By clicking on any of the categories below, you can link to a plain-language explanation of the applicable articles in the Convention. Additional provisions of the Convention (articles 43 to 54) discuss implementation measures for the Convention, explaining how governments and international organizations like UNICEF will work to ensure children are protected in their rights. You can see the full text of the Convention by clicking on the link in the box on the right.

Guiding principles (pdf): The guiding principles of the Convention include non-discrimination; adherence to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and the right to participate. They represent the underlying requirements for any and all rights to be realized.

Survival and development rights (pdf): These are rights to the resources, skills and contributions necessary for the survival and full development of the child. They include rights to adequate food, shelter, clean water, formal education, primary health care, leisure and recreation, cultural activities and information about their rights. These rights require not only the existence of the means to fulfil the rights but also access to them. Specific articles address the needs of child refugees, children with disabilities and children of minority or indigenous groups.

Protection rights (pdf): These rights include protection from all forms of child abuse, neglect, exploitation and cruelty, including the right to special protection in times of war and protection from abuse in the criminal justice system.

Participation rights (pdf): Children are entitled to the freedom to express opinions and to have a say in matters affecting their social, economic, religious, cultural and political life. Participation rights include the right to express opinions and be heard, the right to information and freedom of association.  Engaging these rights as they mature helps children bring about the realization of all their rights and prepares them for an active role in society.

The equality and interconnection of rights are stressed in the Convention. In addition to governments’ obligations, children and parents are responsible for respecting the rights of others—particularly each other. Children’s understanding of rights will vary depending on age and parents in particular should tailor the issues they discuss, the way in which they answer questions and discipline methods to the age and maturity of the individual child.



Full text of the Convention

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